In 2002, former President George W. Bush enacted a program that allowed noncitizens to join U.S. forces and gain citizenship as a result. For many people familiar with the program, noncitizens are often under the assumption that they automatically gain citizenship because of their military service. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. As a result, many servicemen are missing out on their chance at citizenship.
For many of these returning veterans, their immigration status is unknown, which can create huge problems if convicted of a crime. As some immigration lawyers will tell you, the government’s definitions for elevated crimes can differ greatly when coupled with immigration. As a result, many convictions end in deportation. And as some of our readers may have already realized, a number of these deportations are happening to noncitizen veterans.
But while a mass majority of the U.S. population holds soldiers on a pedestal, this same reverence is not being extended to noncitizen veterans. And while some people feel it’s wrong to deport a person who has given their life to serving this country, it’s an important issue that isn’t even being discussed by immigration reformers. It’s likely because it would require an overhaul of the immigration laws passed in 1994 and 1996 that expanded the list of more than 30 categories of offenses for which a person can be deported.
Although a large number of veteran deportations are occurring as a result of complexities within the law, only a small number are reaching their way to the U.S. Supreme Court. As some here in Florida might point out, if more attention were paid to these national-interest cases, many of these deportations could be averted–a move many veteran supporters would be more inclined to get behind.
Source: The Washington Post, “Deported veterans: Banished for committing crimes after serving in the U.S. military,” Kevin Sullivan, Aug. 12, 2013