By Christie Bhageloe, Esq.
It’s hard to believe, but a veteran who served honorably in the military and is in the country legally can be deported for even minor criminal convictions. Many veterans erroneously believe that their military service automatically gives them citizenship. Although it is true that military service does offer a fast track to U.S. citizenship, the process must be completed while the service member is in the military. Once they are discharged from the military, their special status ends. When they are convicted even of minor crimes, they serve their time and then are deported to their home countries. There has been growing attention to this travesty and deported veterans have been organizing to rally for changes that will help active duty member of the military gain citizenship and protect veterans from deportation.
ACLU Report Details How U.S. Has Failed Deported Veterans, American Civil Liberties Union, Jul. 6, 2016, https://www.aclu.org/news/aclu-report-details-how-us-has-failed-deported-veterans.
Discharged, Then Discarded: How U.S. Veterans are Banished by the Country They Swore to Protect, American Civil Liberties Union, https://www.aclusandiego.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/DischargedThenDiscarded-ACLUofCA.pdf.
Nikki Wentling, Hispanic caucus looks to VA secretary to end veteran deportation, STARS AND STRIPES, Jun. 21, 2017, https://www.stripes.com/news/hispanic-caucus-looks-to-va-secretary-to-end-veteran-deportation-1.474616#.WVZLFYTyupr.