One group of immigrants are failing to receive any attention from the immigration reform debate in Washington – deported veterans. According to a recent article in the Washington Post, veterans are being deported after serving in the U.S. military when they commit crimes.
Some of those who immigrated to the U.S. and served in the military as green-card holders were convicted, punished and banished from the country after completing their time of service. According to the Post, there have been hundreds, maybe even thousands, of veterans who have been expelled from the U.S. in recent years.
Crimes committed by immigrant veterans that led to their deportation include drug possession, bar fights, theft or forgery. Expelled veterans have come from countries like Mexico, Germany, Portugal, Italy and England and most have lived in the U.S. since they were children, the Post reported. Many are even being sent back to countries where they don’t know anyone and are unable to speak the native language.
According to U.S. immigration law, non-citizens who commit serious crimes must forfeit their right to continue living in the country. However, immigration advocates and those who have been banished want immigrant veterans to be treated as citizens of the U.S. Although they feel there should be punishment for any crimes committed, they argue that the conviction should not lead to deportation.
“One thing America has always done is revere its veterans,” retired Air Force General Richard Myers told the source. “To say to them, ‘You swore to support and defend the Constitution and put your life on the line for the rest of us. But you’re not a citizen. So, too bad. You’re gone.’ I just think that’s not us.”
Myers doesn’t think it’s fair to veterans for them to be deported for committing a crime. According to the Post, deported veterans are banned from the U.S. for life but are entitled to a burial at a military cemetery including an engraved headstone, an American flag draped over their casket and the Department of Veterans Affairs will pay $300 toward the cost of bringing the remains of a deported veteran back to the U.S.