ACLU report slams US government for ‘bungling’ cases of foreign-born vets

The American Civil Liberties Union of California is accusing the federal government of failing to ensure veterans are granted citizenship after serving in the military.

ACLU tracked 84 foreign-born veterans who’d been deported or are facing deportation because he or she committed crimes that sparked their expulsion. Those veterans should have been considered for citizenship, which would have allowed them to stay in the country after their release from prison or jail, according to the ACLU.

In some cases, the U.S. government lost, misplaced or failed to file the applications of veterans who applied for naturalization, the ACLU’s 60-page report found.

 

 

Many veterans mistakenly believed they became U.S. citizens when they joined the military. Recruiters in some cases told them as much, the ACLU report found.

The veterans “should all be U.S. citizens today, at home with their loved ones, but they languish in unfamiliar and often dangerous foreign places unable in many cases to speak the native language, because of bureaucratic bungling and government indifference,” according to the report.

Mario Martinez, 53, is in the process of being deported, but thought he could stay in the country because of his service.

 

 

He obtained a residency visa after he arrived in El Paso at age 3. He joined the U.S. Army at age 17 and served six years. Years later, he was sent to prison after a domestic dispute incident, he said.

After his release from a Northern California work prison, he was approached by immigration officers. “No one tells you that deportation proceedings could follow (military time),” he said.

To enter the U.S. military, one must be a lawful permanent resident, also known as a green card holder, according to Jennie Pasquarella, ACLU of California’s Director of Immigrants Rights. Green card holders can apply for citizenship after five years of residency. However, military veterans get an expedited path to citizenship, she said.

 

 

Responding to the ACLU’s report, Gillian Christensen, a spokesperson for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said ICE “respects the service and sacrifice of those in military service, and is very deliberate in its review of cases involving veterans.”

“ICE specifically identifies service in the U.S. military as a positive factor that should be considered along with other factors in the totality of the circumstances when deciding whether or not prosecutorial discretion should be exercised,” Christensen said. “Still, and as the report acknowledges, applicable law requires ICE to mandatorily detain and process for removal individuals that have been convicted of aggravated felonies as defined under the Immigration and Naturalization Act.”

http://www.dailynews.com/veterans/20160706/aclu-report-slams-us-government-for-bungling-cases-of-foreign-born-vets

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