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Why are U.S. veterans being deported?

Immigrants who are considered permanent U.S. residents are granted green cards which allow them to live and work in the U.S. on a permanent basis. It's important to note that, while a green card holder enjoys many of the same rights and privileges as a U.S. citizen, he or she can be stripped of a green card for failing to fulfill certain responsibilities, like obeying the law and filing income taxes.

While immigrants who are permanent U.S. residents are welcome to sign up for and serve in the U.S. military, once they leave the military, they are not protected against immigration actions including deportation. This fact is one that several former veterans, who were stripped of their green cards and deported, know all too well.

Approximately 40 veterans currently reside at the Deported Veterans Support House which is located in Tijuana, Mexico. Many of the men share similar stories--proudly serving in the U.S. military and then struggling with the demons that resulted from their years of service. Significant percentages likely have undiagnosed cases of post traumatic stress disorder and even brain injuries. However, due to their deported status, they are not able to receive the medical attention to which, as a U.S. military veteran, they are entitled.

Due to their mental health conditions, many turned to illegal drugs and other destructive behaviors that resulted in some sort of run-in with the law. As a result of a criminal conviction, a permanent resident can be stripped of his or her green card and deported. This is true even in cases where an individual came to the U.S. as a small child and even when that individual is a veteran of the U.S. military.

Recently, a bill known as the Restoring Respect for Immigrant Service in Uniform Act was introduced to members of Congress. If passed, the bill would allow permanent residents who "served in the American military for at least six months and have not committed a serious crime" to avoid deportation.

Unless and until this bill is passed, military veterans who are facing deportation actions would be wise to reach out to an immigration attorney for help.

Source: WQAD-TV, "Deported veterans illustrate how complicated some immigration issues are," Shellie Nelson, April 26, 2016

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