United States Immigration and Customs enforcement does not keep track of how many veterans who have served in the U.S. military are deported. However, one former service member says the number rises into the thousands. He is a military veteran who was deported to Mexico who runs a home near Tijuana that he set up to support deported military veterans.
The 35-year-old former U.S. Army paratrooper found himself in Mexico with no friends or family for support. Although he served in the U.S. military for six years, he was unable to access the veteran’s benefits that he had earned from his service to the country. He says that he feels deceived by his military service. He thought that when he joined the military he would become a U.S. citizen.
Another former paratrooper who lives in the veterans support home in Mexico who was deported after his military service feels the same way. The 37-year-old veteran says that, “I believed I was a citizen the moment I took the oath in front of the flag,” according to Fox News Latino.
Military service does not provide a pathway to U.S. citizenship, but prior service on the U.S. Armed Forces may be relevant in the face of a potential removal action. ICE officials say that established military service may be considered by prosecutors as one factor when evaluating a case for the exercise of possible prosecutorial discretion.
A 2011 federal memo reportedly says that “Whatever action from ICE that can result in the expulsion of military veterans, needs to be authorized by a field office and evaluated locally.”
Source: Fox News, “US Veterans in Limbo After Being Deported to Mexico,” Oct. 25, 212