Warning to Immigrants Seeking Military Service: Get U.S. Citizenship Naturalization Before Joining U.S. Armed Forces


immigreby Bob Hanafin, Staff Writer


This will be a multi-part expose of the plight of anywhere from a low of 300 to a high of possibly 3,000 American Veterans are being held in U.S. Immigration & Customs Holding Cells awaiting deportation by Homeland Security.

About two years ago, we at VT did an expose on how the Bush Administration via his Homeland Security Chief now running the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) which has had a name change recently to ICE – new logo at left [more on that later]. At that time we contended that with each SURGE in wartime need there’s been a corresponding SURGE in acceptance of both illegal and legal immigrants into the U.S. Armed Forces.

The carrot to lure immigrants into serving during Wartime is the promise of eventual U.S. Citizenship or depending on the desperate need for bodies to avoid implementing THE DRAFT offers of expedited U.S. citizenship. We believe on balance this is a good deal for immigrants, especially illegal immigrants who volunteered to do something that the vast majority of youngsters BORN IN THE USA refuse to do.

Simply put, these immigrants (regardless their status) once the military recruiter signs them up (that in itself an illegal act ignorance of applicant’s citizenship status aside) have EARNED the rights and privileges of American citizens by virtue, and we mean virtue of defending the nation they wish to call home. How many youngsters born in the USA can actually claim such a noble birthright, patriotism or true claim to U.S. Citizenship?

Now, it has come to our attention, though a few are not what some racists would call poster boy examples of screwed U.S. military Veterans (who just happen to be immigrants) sitting in Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration & Custom Service Detention Centers in California awaiting deportation or already deported. Regardless the motivation or justification, we view it as a national shame and criminal act to place American Veterans regardless their national origin in GITMO like Gulags wearing yellow jumpsuits looking no different from any other terrorist. This is bullshit and must stop IMMEDIATELY.

When first brought to our attention, we thought there were so few cases that it warranted the attention of immigration activists and legal rights groups not a Veterans’ advocacy network. However, it is now Veterans activists who are making us aware of the scope of the disgrace and it goes far beyond California to Puerto Rico. We have it upon reliable information from legal investigators and Veterans activists standing up for our brothers and sisters in combat that this is not just a case of a few bad apple Veterans sitting in California waiting to be deported.

There are reportedly ten currently imprisoned in El Centro, CA and know an additional five that have been deported from El Centro. Veterans activists in California have made contact with one American Veteran already deported to Mexico. With approximately 135 Department of Homeland Security Prisons, and about 250 (outsourced) Private Contractor Prisons nationwide we extrapolated that approximately 3,000 vets from various war periods are incarcerated and facing deportation nationwide.


No one in government seems to be keeping track of them as Veterans despite the SURGE to enlist them circa 2003 to 2007. Given the fact that the vast majority of Americans do not know that immigrants still serve in significant numbers in our Armed Forces expecting and deserving to be treated as American citizens, and that our government took steps above and beyond to attract immigrants into our military.

This story needs to be told and redressed by our government and the American people. To ignore the plight of American Veterans facing deportation amounts to placing an upside down American Flag ‘sign of distress’ over the face of the Statue of Liberty for those American warriors and our nation as symbol of  hypocrisy!

Robert L. Hanafin
Major, U.S. Air Force-Retired
GS-14, U.S. Civil Service-Retired
Former Immigration Law Enforcement Officer


161 Immigrants (illegal or legal?) were naturalized as American citizens in a mass Army re-enlistment and U.S. Citizenship Naturalization Ceremony staged by the Bush Administration on July 4, 2007

Read the Story Below Posted by Defense Link on July 4, 2007

Nearly 600 U.S. Troops Re-enlist in Baghdad on Independence Day

BAGHDAD, Iraq, July 4, 2007 – Hundreds of troops gathered at Al Faw Palace for the Multi-National Force-Iraq Reenlistment, Naturalization and Independence Day Ceremony at Camp Victory. During the ceremony, 588 troops reenlisted and 161 were naturalized as American citizens.

Army Gen. David Petraeus, commanding general, MNF-I, gave opening remarks before administering the Oath of Enlistment.”This morning we pay tribute to the American ideals we all hold so dear in several significant ways,” he said.

“First, by conducting what surely is the largest reenlistment event ever held in Iraq and perhaps in our Armed Forces’ history, then by celebrating the granting of American citizenship to a group of troopers who have already pledged their loyalty to our nation by putting their lives on the line for it, and finally by observing the 231st birthday of our great country,” he said.

Petraeus said the troops who reenlisted on Independence Day, most while serving on a second or third deployment to a combat zone, have made a decision based on far more than any bonus they may receive.

“No bonus, no matter the size, can adequately compensate you for the contribution each of you has made and continues to make as a custodian of our nation’s defenses,” he said. “Nor can any amount of money compensate you adequately for the sacrifices you make serving here in Iraq or the burdens your loved ones face at home in your absence. And we certainly cannot put a price on the freedoms you defend or those we are trying to help the Iraqis establish and safeguard here in the land of the two rivers.”

Petraeus then dedicated the Independence Day ceremony in honor of two soldiers who died fighting for America before they could be sworn in as citizens.

“Sgt. Kimel Watt and Spc. Farid Elazzouzi, who would have been in your ranks here this morning, were lost in recent combat action, giving the last full measure of devotion for a country that would have become fully theirs today,” Petraeus said. “Words can not express the admiration I feel for these two men or the sadness I feel for our nation’s loss and their families’ sacrifice.”

Petraeus said the deaths are reminders that freedom comes at a very high cost, which must never be forgotten. Like these two soldiers, who fought and died with the American flag on their shoulders, he said the troops being naturalized as U.S. citizens were most deserving.

“When you enlisted into the Armed Forces you swore to support and defend a Constitution that did not yet fully apply to you,” Petraeus said. “You chose to endure the same sacrifices as your fellow comrades in arms to preserve the freedom of a land that was not yet fully yours. You accepted that you might have to pay the ultimate price on behalf of a nation to which you did not fully belong. Now, you will officially become citizens of the United States, a country to which each of you has already borne true faith and allegiance in your hearts and your deeds.”

Army Pfc. Yaremi Boza, a human resources specialist with the 260th Military Intelligence Battalion, is one of those citizens. She migrated from Cuba to Florida as a child in 1995 and believes the Independence Day ceremony opened a lot of doors for her as an American citizen.

“I’m glad that I can be here to get my citizenship,” she said. “It means being able to take care of myself and my family and having lots of opportunities and windows open. It’s a great feeling to know at the end of the day that you’re a part of the country you’re fighting for.”

After Jonathan Scharfen, the deputy director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, administered the Oath of Citizenship to the new U.S. citizens, Arizona Senator John McCain provided congratulatory remarks on behalf of the U.S. Senate.

“I know it’s not possible for even the most grateful nation to compensate you in kind for the measure of devotion that you have with great personal sacrifice given our country,” McCain said. “We have incurred a debt to you that we can never repay in full. We can offer you only the small tribute of our humility.”

The senator said that when a nation goes to war, a million tragedies ensue. War is a terrible thing, but McCain said it is not the worst thing.

“You know that – you who have endured the dangers and deprivations of war so that the worst thing would not befall us, so that America might be secure in our freedom,” he said. “As you know, the war in which you have fought has divided the American people. But it has divided no American in their admiration for you. We all honor you.”

McCain’s remarks were followed by the Pledge of Allegiance led by South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, and the ceremony concluded with recognition of all 50 states in America.


Originally Posted at Nearly 600 U.S. Troops Re-enlist in Baghdad on Independence Day


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Readers are more than welcome to use the articles I've posted on Veterans Today, I've had to take a break from VT as Veterans Issues and Peace Activism Editor and staff writer due to personal medical reasons in our military family that take away too much time needed to properly express future stories or respond to readers in a timely manner. My association with VT since its founding in 2004 has been a very rewarding experience for me. Retired from both the Air Force and Civil Service. Went in the regular Army at 17 during Vietnam (1968), stayed in the Army Reserve to complete my eight year commitment in 1976. Served in Air Defense Artillery, and a Mechanized Infantry Division (4MID) at Fort Carson, Co. Used the GI Bill to go to college, worked full time at the VA, and non-scholarship Air Force 2-Year ROTC program for prior service military. Commissioned in the Air Force in 1977. Served as a Military Intelligence Officer from 1977 to 1994. Upon retirement I entered retail drugstore management training with Safeway Drugs Stores in California. Retail Sales Management was not my cup of tea, so I applied my former U.S. Civil Service status with the VA to get my foot in the door at the Justice Department, and later Department of the Navy retiring with disability from the Civil Service in 2000. I've been with Veterans Today since the site originated. I'm now on the Editorial Board. I was also on the Editorial Board of Our Troops News Ladder another progressive leaning Veterans and Military Family news clearing house. I remain married for over 45 years. I am both a Vietnam Era and Gulf War Veteran. I served on Okinawa and Fort Carson, Colorado during Vietnam and in the Office of the Air Force Inspector General at Norton AFB, CA during Desert Storm. I retired from the Air Force in 1994 having worked on the Air Staff and Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon.