Veterans who have served in the military from as long ago as the Korean War to the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been deported because of crimes they committed after their service.
They are often people who have received permanent legal resident status, but still have not become U.S. citizens. Officials don’t keep track of how many veterans have been deported, but groups formed to help the deportees estimate it could be hundreds or thousands deported in recent years, according to The Washington Post
Here are six noteworthy quotes on the issue of deported veterans.
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“One thing America has always done is revere its veterans. To say to them, ‘You swore to support and defend the Constitution and put your life on the line for the rest of us. But you’re not a citizen. So, too bad. You’re gone.’ I just think that’s not us.”
— retired Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers
, once chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George W. Bush, in The Washington Post
“If someone is willing to put on the uniform of the United States military, the last thing they should have to worry about is their immigration status and that of their family; we shouldn’t be deporting them.”
— U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson
, D-California, in The Washington Post
“It’s an extension of what happened to us with Vietnam. We came back and nobody wanted anything to do with us. And we had to fight for every single thing that we had.”
— Willie Hager
, who served in Vietnam with the Marine Corps, in The San Diego Union-Tribune
“With so many people wishing to immigrate to the U.S., why should we put up with those who have proven themselves to be unwilling to obey our laws.”
— former federal prosecutor Pete Nunez
, who prosecuted immigration violations for 16 years, in The San Diego Union-Tribune
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“Anecdotal evidence leads me to suspect that veterans have been deported more frequently and for less serious offenses.”
— Michael Wishnie
, a Yale University professor who represents deported veterans, according to CNN
“We volunteered. We put our life on the line. We did what normal Americans don’t do. They’re betraying us.”
— Hector Barajas
, who was deported in 2004 after completing a two-year prison sentence for discharging a firearm into a vehicle. Barajas, a veteran of the 82nd Airborne Division, headed the Banished Veterans organization to help deported veterans from Tijuana, Mexico, according to Salon
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