Military

U.S. Military Veterans Can Still Face Deportation

Donald Trump said during campaign that undocumented veterans are a "a very special situation," but his executive orders don't exempt vets from deportation.

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Basking in reflected glory.
Myles Cullen/ZUMA Press/Newscom

President Donald Trump made it plenty clear as a candidate that he intends to crackdown on undocumented immigrants and his early executive orders have proven, in that regard, he's a man of his word. But Trump also indicated that he'd make an exception for undocumented immigrants who have served in the U.S. military.

At last September's Commander-in-Chief forum, Trump said, "I think that when you serve in the armed forces, that's a special situation, and I could see myself working that out. Absolutely." He added, "If they plan on serving, if they get in, I would absolutely, for all of those people. Now, we have to be very careful, we have to vet very carefully, everybody would agree with that, but the answer is it would be a very special circumstance, yes."

But nothing in Trump's executive orders on immigration enforcement makes any mention of a special exemption for military veterans, and there are no safeguards in place to prevent legal permanent residents who have served in the military from being deported—even for non-violent crimes, thanks to the The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, which made certain misdemeanors into deportable offenses.

Some veterans advocacy groups met with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Capitol Hill earlier this week to push for a clearer path to citizenship for immigrants who serve in the armed forces, as current policy remains typically confusing and cumbersome. There are approximately 35,000 non-citizens actively serving in the U.S. military, with about 8,000 new volunteers joining annually.

Introduced in 2009, the Naturalization at Basic Training Initiative is intended to give legal residents "the opportunity to naturalize when they graduate from basic training," but NBC Bay Area reports, "Even with that new provision, those volunteering to serve in the military must still apply for citizenship. Many veterans told us that frequently recruits aren't informed and don't realize they need to take that extra step of actually applying."

This is how certain veterans, many of whom struggle with emotional issues and drug dependencies after experiencing the trauma of combat, end up being kicked out of the only country they've ever known. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) doesn't keep track of such statistics, but the ACLU found over 300 known cases of military veterans being deported, which was documented in a report last year.

In a particularly cruel and ironic policy twist, honorably discharged service members who have been deported are legally entitled to a U.S. military funeral and burial—with full honors.

NEXT: The 9th Circuit and the 'evidence gap'

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  1. What part of “illegal” don’t these bulletcatchers understand?

    1. better question is…how the fuck are non citizens or non green card holders part of our military?

      security threat?

  2. What Trump needs to understand is that you can’t keep carving out exceptions. You have to pick one group and scapegoat it relentlessly. Do you think Hitler would have made an exception for Jewish veterans? Of course not – he would have blamed them for the country’s defeats. E.g. the Dreyfus affair in France.

  3. I’m pretty sure that all the people that join up to cement their citizenship get that clearly stated in their contracts…I mean, is this REALLY an issue? If someone were a good soldier, wouldn’t his CO and NCO’s go to bat for him and make it happen? I served with some guys that could BARELY speak English and were in the Army to get citizenship. That is how it happens, folks, not this stupid reason fearmongering….

    But the reason staff’s TDS continues….

    1. And we lost because of them, right?

    2. “Become a citizen” is not something you can get in your enlistment contract; it’s not a decision within the purview of the military services. HOWEVER the “Path to Citizenship” was a huge freaking recruiting initiative and any initial training installation’s personnel services section would identify trainees eligible. It’s part of fucking reception. I bet you couldn’t go a month without one of the services “Military Times” papers running a photo of some ceremony for servicemembers taking their oath of citizenship as part of their naturalization facilitated by the military.

      I want to know the name of the fucking legal resident whose enlisted in the past decade who didn’t know they could get their citizenship application expedited because that is the dumbest fucker there is and I have rocks that need painted.

    3. Question … if some of them barely speak English, does that mean some of them (and 300 is a pretty small figure, overall) might not have understood details of things written in English?

      1. If they barely speak english, how are they going to properly serve in the military?

    4. NCO and CO going to bats for a troop lawls, ROFL, LMAO, get the fuck out of here. They don’t give a fuck! They regularly talk about how they can NJP a troop each day just to fuck them over. CO, 1st Sgt, MsGyn (forget stupid spelling), and other Staff NCO shoot the shit on how they can burn the kids they hate. They also regular toss everyone’s rooms and throw shit off the balcony destroying their stuff for fun. This was in Marine Corps Times and those are rarely reported.

      You do realize that troops are also the go to escape goats to protect senior leadership?

      I have seen troops get BN NJPed for someone drinking themselves to death just to get heat off the BN+ because the place was under enough heat as is for 3 vehicles sinking in 3 months (ocean, river, bay)*, people hanging themselves, jumping off buildings ton kill themselves, UA, 30-40 drug pops a year (3-5% of the unit), Meth lab, tons of DUIs, counterfeiting US money, people getting ripped out of bed and beaten at night, someone ending up in a coma in the ICU with permanent brain damage due to hazing, and so much more.

      *one case of crew chief/section head/Platoon Gunny’s incompetence and crew chief forged his troops initials and they still NJPed the troop even though they knew crew chief forged his initials on the check list. More blame on lower ranking means the less heat the senior enlisted and brass get.

      1. +They also held a bullshit funeral for this PFC/LCPL to appease the kids parts where field grade officers were talking about how they liked blah blah so much. Yea…a Colonel knows a fucking troop? lawls. We were all forced to attend this funeral…er i mean charade to keep the parents happy making them think we actually gave a shit about this kid.

        No one gives a fuck about anyone and will throw a boot under the bus to cover their ass anytime and every time.

        1. oh they also don’t get PPE to troops while putting on armor that contains cadmium. I asked about the PPE and why proper procedures weren’t followed and i was just hazed and sent back to work breathing in cadmium dust. Hurray!

          1. Lead water? nah they just make you drink lead water. Fuck it if its safe or not. You either can drink lead water or die of heat stroke. Loose or Loose choices.

            1. oh…safe water was just a 5 min walk away…they just wouldn’t let troops get clean water….fuckers

              1. eh looking at map online safe water was a 2 min walk..not even 5 mins. The PX was 5 min walk from the ramp

  4. “but the ACLU found over 300 known cases of military veterans being deported”… I would truly like to see the circumstances of every one of those cases. I trust the ACLU about as far as I can throw their headquarters building….

    1. Are you disputing that they were veterans ,or are you disputing that they were deported? Because the ACLU seems to be making a pretty modest claim there.

      1. Probably disputing whether they were honorably discharged or have a criminal record after leaving the military

        1. I think this is all about cases where they have a criminal record after leaving the military.

          1. So they violated the terms of their green card and Trump doesn’t want to let them stay?

            Boo-fucking-hoo.

            1. Well, yeah. Boo hoo indeed. It is sad and a shitty way to treat people who have served in the military.

              No, there isn’t any fundamental right being violated here. But I think there is a reasonable argument to be made that you shouldn’t get kicked out of the country that is your adopted home and in whose military you served for some petty bullshit like a drug conviction.

              1. They aren’t getting kicked out for a petty drug conviction (or assault, robbery, fraud, forgery, rape, etc). They’re getting kicked out for violating the terms of their permanent resident status.

                And they don’t deserve special treatment relative to those permanent resident aliens that didn’t serve in the military. That’s a violation of the equal protection clause.

                1. They aren’t getting kicked out for a petty drug conviction (or assault, robbery, fraud, forgery, rape, etc). They’re getting kicked out for violating the terms of their permanent resident status.

                  Those aren’t mutually exclusive.

                  But fair point on equal protection.

    2. I read the ACLU report. Their best-case, the sob story they feature in the report, is a Marine who served from 1988-96 with duty in the Phillipines from 88-92 then in the USMC Reserve from 92-96 living in California. Sometime between 96 and 2001 he gets into drugs (which he blames on his time in the military) and he gets popped for possession with a 2004 conviction. In 2006 he travels to Mexico and loses his Green Card. When he tries to get a replacement his drug conviction in 04 makes him ineligible.

      Oh, and the dude admits that if he had tried to apply for citizenship anytime from ’92 to ’04 he would have been approved relatively quickly as an honorbaly discharged veteran with a clean criminal record. But he DIDN’T FUCKING LOOK IT UP until he was barred. For 12 fucking years he never asked, or was never asked “Hey, what is needed to be a citizen?”

    3. probably drugs or something like that. Drugs are very common and admin seps are really really common. we kicked out like 3-5% of the unit each year IIRC.

  5. “Many veterans told us that frequently recruits aren’t informed and don’t realize they need to take that extra step of actually applying.”

    Bull. Fucking. Shit.

    I was a fucking recruiter when that law was coming onto the books and every fucking legal permanent resident interested in enlisting asked about that and what was required. It’s a question that basic training battalions ask because “citizenship ceremony for newly graduated trainees” is a photo-op every fucking commander wants.

    AND “Citizenship status” is a fucking data field in a personnel record. It would take me, right now, about 15 seconds to generate a list within my MSC of who is a resident alien. It would take me the time to find their fucking address in Outlook to give them the head’s-up of what they need to do.

    1. Exactly. My experience with recruiters is that they want everything they can get in paperwork and follow the steps like it’s the bloody Bible. I don’t believe for a second that anyone can be ‘undocumented’ by following the procedure.

      1. No one can be without committing, and continuing to commit, some pretty hefty amounts of fraud. I didn’t realize that this was about undoucmented veterans and I have my take on that below.

        Honestly, I could see this maybe happening a few decades ago when it was a lot more work to verify identities. But since the 1990s? No fucking way. You have to prove citizenship status to reenlist, and before you get out your eligibility to reenlist is examined, even if you have no intent of doing so.

        1. When I see quotes like the one in your first post, my first thought of the person saying it smacks of a bigotry of low expectations cast upon the person trying to join, as if they are too stupid to ponder the potential considerations of joining the military. Please. These people are not dumb.

        2. Yup. I remember very well having my re-enlistment status reviewed shortly before my EAS, which amused me because there was no way in hell I was going to stay in and continue to see my wife for only half of the year every single year. This was in early 2006 when most everyone was deploying once a year.

    2. The only thing I can think of is if a person enlisted with a green card and then committed a crime that would result in the revocation of that green card, thus making their status here in violation of our immigration laws.

      1. I went and read the report. They have many of the 300 deported folks featured in sidebars. There’s a couple for felony drug possession, a felony tax evasion, but a whole bunch are assaults, domestic violence, drug trafficking. There’s also a bunch with pretty long flash-to-bang times where they’re discharged in ’76, then forge a check in ’97 and get deported. One dude started his citizenship application in ’82, but was arrested for sexual assault and the application was suspended pending the outcome of the case. Case is dismissed, dude assumed INS is processing the request. In 2012(!) he gets deported because of a larceny and trio of drug convictions. 30 fucking years he thought “they were just processing it”? Thirty fucking years he doesn’t follow-up? This particular case is currently be appealed by ICE after a judge ordered them to process his application because it wasn’t his fault they didn’t restart his application. I get some sympathy there, but it took him thirty fucking years to decide “hey, maybe I should follow-up on that?”

    3. I call bullshit to you sir! recruiters and the whole system is fucked. I know countless recruiters lie and bang recruits and plenty of other issues. Many also falsely claimed recruits would get sign on bonuses and they never did because the recruiter was trying to meet his quota and was blatantly lying to kids to meet his quota. Maybe you werent a POS but most of them are and lie constantly or don’t tell kids shit.

      I also went through DES and TDRL and holy shit do they do everything possible to not tell you shit so they can deny medical retirement or so you don’t know how to reach a lawyer or that you even have access to one for upcoming hearings.

      1. The day i believe the average recruiter is honest and does an honest job is the day hell freezes over.

        1. I wasn’t burned by one FYI. I just have seen it a lot. Caught them lying enough times though.

  6. undocumented immigrants who have served in the U.S. military.

    The US Military has plenty of paperwork and documentation on the men and women who have served.

    1. I am not sure I understand how a veteran gets to be an “undocumented ” alien without having done something to earn that status.

      1. They can’t, it’s bullshit.

        1. It’s poor word choice.

  7. many of whom struggle with emotional issues and drug dependencies after experiencing the trauma of combat

    Hey guys this gives me an idea.

  8. ::sniffs::

    Bullshit.

  9. Wait a fucking second, is this about undocumented veterans? There’s no such thing as an “undocumented veteran”.

    AR 601-210 para 2-4a “Under 10 USC 504, an applicant is eligible for enlistment if they are-” and what follows is a US Citizen, a lawful alien, a US national (ex: PR resident), a citizen of the FSM, Palau, or the Marshall Islands, or another immigration status at secretarial determination. And “illegal alien” has never been an immigration status authorized enlistment.

    AR 601-210 para 2-4c then states all the fucking documentation required to prove citizenship. “Because they said so” isn’t one. And all those documents get added into your personnel file. It would take a HR clerk a minute to dig up the citizenship document on anyone in their organization.

    And those are just the army regs I know; the other services have the same fucking requirements. If you enlisted in the military under someone else’s paperwork, congrats, you just committed “go to jail” fraud.

  10. Wait a fucking second, is this about undocumented veterans? There’s no such thing as an “undocumented veteran”.

    AR 601-210 para 2-4a “Under 10 USC 504, an applicant is eligible for enlistment if they are-” and what follows is a US Citizen, a lawful alien, a US national (ex: PR resident), a citizen of the FSM, Palau, or the Marshall Islands, or another immigration status at secretarial determination. And “illegal alien” has never been an immigration status authorized enlistment.

    AR 601-210 para 2-4c then states all the fucking documentation required to prove citizenship. “Because they said so” isn’t one. And all those documents get added into your personnel file. It would take a HR clerk a minute to dig up the citizenship document on anyone in their organization.

    And those are just the army regs I know; the other services have the same fucking requirements. If you enlisted in the military under someone else’s paperwork, congrats, you just committed “go to jail” fraud.

  11. Fuck you squirrels! Go telling the fucking supply guy you need the PRK-E7.

  12. Did you fact check this, Anthony?

    1. Somebody screenshot this before it gets memory-holed.

    2. Other than the questionable use of “undocumented” in the headline, I don’t see anything wrong.

      It could have been more clearly stated, but the topic seems to be non-citizen veterans who get deported after being convicted of some minor crime, not people who were undocumented/illegal when they were in the military.

      1. So he could have just as easily said “Foreign Nationals that served in our armed forces and then lost permanent resident alien status after they were convicted for a felony can still be deported”.

        It would be more clear at least, even if it lacks brevity or shock factor.

      2. It’s right in the opening paragraph that he’s writing about undocumented veterans. The report itself though only documents one; one whose recruiter committed fraud to enlist him. Sucks for that dude, really, really does. If Justice SFC B was deciding his case I’d be very lenient on him. But I’m not Justice SFC B.

        1. OK. Yeah, it’s a mess. Should have left out the whole “undocumented” angle. Most of the story seems to be about immigrant veterans in general.

      3. Zeb,
        I ask that question every time since his horrible fuckup with the dead granny from Syria bullshit. He will keep getting it, someone has to edit the editors.

  13. There are approximately 35,000 non-citizens actively serving in the U.S. military, with about 8,000 new volunteers joining annually.

    Foederati?

    This is the sort of thing which led to the fall of Rome. We shouldn’t be here for another eight hundred years!

  14. “Trump also indicated that he’d make an exception for undocumented immigrants who have served in the U.S. military.”

    I guess I’m not sure what “undocumented” means. Are there unknown persons just wandering around our military bases mumbling in Spanish/whatever?

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