Undocumented veterans are subject to deportation after their military service if their legal residence or green card status expires, three veterans told KSAT 12 in an interview on Wednesday.
Marine Corps veteran Jose Alaniz told KSAT that he was denied federal aid after a hurricane caused thousands of dollars worth of damage to his home due to an outstanding DUI conviction. Alaniz said an attorney told Alaniz to plead guilty to the DUI and he was deported to Mexico shortly after.
“I tried to get help from the V.A., from the Department of Defense, anybody that could help me pro bono because I didn’t have the money,” Marine Corps veteran Jose Alaniz told KSAT. Alaniz was in the U.S. on a green card and did not reapply after he was convicted for an out of state DUI.
An estimated 511,000 foreign-born veterans live in the U.S., with approximately 40,000 immigrants actively serving today.
— NYC Immigrant Affairs (@NYCImmigrants) November 11, 2020
“I was willing to fight (to prove) my innocence but the lawyer told me to plead guilty because it was going to cost thousands of dollars,” Alaniz told KSAT. “Not once did he mention that there’s a possibility of deportation.”
Even though Alaniz was deported he said he would “do it all over again,” and that the military gave him opportunities he wouldn’t have had, KSAT reported.
A non-citizen Army veteran who enlisted after the 9/11 attacks was honorably discharged from the Army and detained by ICE for multiple weeks, KSAT reported. He was released and threatened with deportation and has been in hiding since.
“I completely feel betrayed by my government,” he told KSAT. “All I’m asking is just to let me be with my family, I already paid for what I did.”
The Army veteran is proud of his service, “honestly I wish I never got out,” he told KSAT. “I miss it every day.” (RELATED: Over 30 Illegal Immigrants In Texas Who ‘Threaten Public Safety’ Arrested In One Week)
Marcelino Ramos, a Marine veteran, was deported by ICE after he was convicted of felony injury to a child in 2009, KSAT reported. Ramos illegally re-entered the U.S. to be with his family but was deported again shortly after his child was born.
“How is it fair for somebody that has served to not be able to enjoy the freedoms that he fought to protect,” Ramos’ ex-wife Frances Ramos told KSAT.
“It’s very difficult to take it all in even trying to live because I’m not there to provide for my family, but well I have to keep trying,” Marcelino told KSAT.
Immigration officials are required to review an undocumented immigrant’s military service record before deportation, however, agents reportedly did not adhere to this policy from 2013 through 2018, according to KSAT. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials did not keep a record of how many undocumented veterans the agency detained and deported.
Several thousand green card holders and legal permanent residents enlist in the U.S. military annually, though many of those undocumented service members have been deported after they are discharged or retired from the military, KSAT reported. An estimated over 2,000 non-citizen veterans who were deported are trying to return to the U.S.
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