UT: Coalition seeks relief for deported military veterans
A coalition called Honorably Discharged, Dishonorably Deported launched Monday with a goal of stopping non-citizen military veterans from being deported and helping those who already have been.
The coalition, chaired by Nathan Fletcher, a military veteran who previously served in the California State Assembly, will base its reform efforts on a report released in June from the American Civil Liberties Union of California.
The report found that the federal government had failed to help immigrant service members with naturalization and that those deported were often unable to receive the medical treatment they required after serving. It made recommendations for changes by national and state governments, including automatic citizenship for all honorably discharged service members and legal representation for veterans in removal proceedings.
Citizenship is not a requirement to enlist in the military. Enlistees must provide proof of legal residency, such as a green card. Many join the military thinking it will fast-track them to citizenship. But legal permanent residents of the U.S. who serve in the military can be deported if they commit crimes without becoming citizens.
“Over the course of my life I’ve been advocating for veterans on a multitude of fronts,” Fletcher said at a news conference outside the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center in Balboa Park. “Never in my life did I imagine that we would have to come together as a coalition to say that those who are willing to give their life for our country should be allowed to remain in our country.”