Legal immigrants to this country can face deportation if they are convicted of crimes or guilty of immigration violations. Some 124,000 of those who have been deported are veterans of the U.S. military.
The majority of the deportations for criminal activity involve drug-related crimes after they left the military. Some of these crimes were committed over ten years ago.
Many veterans left behind families here in the U.S. when they were deported. They lost their military benefits. Not only does their military service not necessarily help them. It can make them targets for drug cartels in their home country.
What is the VA doing?
The Biden administration is taking steps to bring deported vets back if they want to return. They’re giving them the chance to apply for re-entry to the U.S. One member of Congress who has been involved in the efforts to reconnect with deported veterans says, “The real question before us is whether someone who’s volunteered to serve their country in the U.S. military who gets out and messes up should, in addition to paying the penalty under the criminal law for messing up, also be expelled from the United States.”
Even if they don’t want to return, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is helping them reinstate their benefits. Getting in touch with all of these veterans, who are now scattered throughout the world, is a huge undertaking.
Changes in ICE
Further, the administration is trying to minimize the number of veterans deported for criminal activity. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is now going to consider their military service as a factor in determining whether someone will be deported.
The VA is also taking steps to help those immigrants who are serving their adopted country become naturalized citizens while they’re in the military. A program to do that was stopped during the previous administration.
If you have a family member who was deported after serving in the U.S. military and wants to return, you may be able to help them improve their chances by seeking legal guidance.