Though U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement does not track the number of U.S. military veterans that are deported, it happens all the time — and according to one such deported veteran who has set up a shelter in Mexico for such people, there are roughly 12,000 deported U.S. veterans.
It is a confusing and seemingly paradoxical notion. People who enlist in the U.S. Army earn a path to citizenship, but there are no laws that protect them from deportation. For example, the 35-year-old who created the aforementioned shelter for deported veterans in Mexico served in the Army for six years. But three years after his service, he was arrested and ultimately deported. He was under the assumption that military service equaled citizenship.
As a result, he has been marooned in Mexico without his family or friends, and no real way of fighting his deportation. He is also locked out of the benefits many military veterans receive — including medical and education benefits — which are vital to a veteran’s post-military life.
There are a few things to consider from this story, and the first is the obviously complicated (or maybe more appropriately, convoluted) nature of immigration law. Many different provisions, policies and laws have been stacked on top of each other over the years, and varying priorities of local or federal officials cloud the intent of these things.
It can lead to a nightmare scenario for undocumented people or, as we can see, even people who serve loyally to the country; and until clear and concise reform to the immigration system is provided, people are best off with legal representation by their side. With such consultation established, an undocumented person can fight any deportation proceeding from the get-go, giving them a better chance of winning their case and avoiding the fate of deported individuals who have little chance of having their case heard, or even getting legal help at all.
Source: Fox News, “US Veterans in Limbo After Being Deported to Mexico,” Oct. 25, 2012
- To learn more about protecting yourself from deportation, please visit our Los Angeles removal defense page.