U.S. Veteran Hector Lopez Gets Deported, Injustice?

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It has become fashionable for Congress over the last 8 years to use immigrants as scapegoats and blame them for society’s problems.  But all that simple is not so….especially when it comes to those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces but are NOT U.S. Citizens.

According to the Cato Institute, immigrants account for more than 20% of all recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor—the country’s highest award for battlefield valor. That is more than 700 immigrants who served this country in time of war and displayed heroism "beyond the call of duty." Many lost their lives or were seriously injured.

     

Today’s witnesses provide further evidence—if evidence is needed—that immigrants share a commitment to defending this nation and are willing, if necessary, to give what Abraham Lincoln called "the last full measure of devotion" in support of America’s interests.

As we pay tribute today to our Veterans this coming Memorial Day, we should also pay attention to our immigrant Veterans and those who are NOT U.S. Citizens but were enlisted in our Armed Forces and fought to protect and defend our country.  Yet, there are so many lurking the shadows who are being treated like waste after they serve.  Are they not deserved of the respect bestowed on those who actions to defend speak so loudly?

We should ask ourselves why we are often so quick to turn our backs on them.  What is the difference between the American Citizen who lost his leg in a firefight and a Mexican Citizen wearing the Red, White and Blue who is now is wheelchair after getting hit by an IED in Iraq?

Shouldn’t we do more for them for doing for us?

hector-lopezConsider the case of Hector G.Lopez.  He is an honorably discharged veteran of the United States Armed Forces. He was deported to Mexico because of a felony conviction (even though he was told that he  could not be deported because of "The Fairness To Immigrant Veterans act of 1999").


Right:  Hector Lopez


All he asks is that he can legally live with his family with his family in the United States, the country he served during war time.  He seeks to become a productive member of the society that he served and defended.

As he inches toward this Memorial Day and on to Veterans Day, he says "nobody asks if we are just honoring our veterans that are American Citizens. No! On those days we honor ALL of our veterans that were willing to give thier lives defending and protecting the rights and freedoms of all American Citizens, that’s me too! A felony conviction does not take back our honorable military service to The United States of America" say Lopez.

Lopez has paid his debt to society.  Isn’t that enough?  If anyone out there feels they can assist Mr. Lopez, please contact him at via email.


Iraq War Veterans Face Deportation
Military Falsely Promises Automatic U.S. Citizenship

By Karen Scamman

American heroes are returning home after months of risking their lives for our country to face the unimaginable: the threat of being
deported from the country they fought so hard to protect.

Take the case of Orlando Castanea. Brought to the United States from Mexico by his parents at the age of three, Castanea grew up in America. As an adult, he joined the U.S. Army and spent 12 months fighting in Iraq. He was told that his military service would secure his application for citizenship. Then, only months after returning from Iraq, Castanea received a deportation letter.

Castanea is not alone. Marine Corporal Phillipe Louis Jean also faced the threat of deportation after serving in Iraq. Louis Jean had previously been court-martialed for adultery, but the minor infraction was not serious enough to prevent the Marine Corps from sending him to serve in Iraq. Upon his return, however, it was apparently serious enough to threaten him with deportation. Though
his case was dismissed on a technicality, Louis Jean will never be able to attain citizenship because of that court-martial, regardless of his brave service to America.

Jan A. Ruhman, a Veterans activist, has taken it upon herself to fight on behalf of veterans who are threatened with deportation.

Apparently, Iraq War Veterans are not the only ones being faced with this travesty. Ruhman was first alerted to the problem by the story of a U.S. Marine Corps Gulf War I combat veteran. Since then, she has discovered that veterans of even earlier wars have been faced with deportation proceedings, many of them being forced to leave the country permanently. According to Ruhman, over 3,000 veterans are currently incarcerated and under threat of deportation nation wide.

Many veterans that Ruhman and her colleagues interviewed claimed that automatic U.S. Citizenship was promised to them by recruitment officers in return for service. In reality, non-citizens who serve in the military must still apply for citizenship. However, many veterans who did submit applications were left by the wayside, as their applications did not follow them once they were deployed to a combat zone.

For more information on this issue, please visit:

Jan A. Ruhman. "American Combat Veterans Facing Deportation." http://vetspeakblog.blogspot.com

KPFA Radio. "When I Got Back From Iraq, They Tried to Deport Me." www.warcomeshome.org

 

 

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