U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is required to screen for U.S. veteran status and to send issues of veteran removal to senior officials. However, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that ICE did not follow its own procedures for U.S. veteran removal from fiscal year 2013 -fiscal year 2018; ICE claims that this failure was because it was unaware of these procedures.
In the case of military veterans, specific factors such as time of military service, deployment(s), and awards are supposed to be considerations in deportation decisions. Additionally, ICE failed to send issues of veteran removal to senior officials approximately 70% of the time. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security then failed to distinguish its treatment of deportation cases involving military veterans.
Since ICE does not maintain complete electronic records, it is unknown how many U.S. veterans were not properly screened during deportation proceedings and then deported. These U.S. veterans were deported due to having been convicted of a range of crimes including minor offenses.
This failure to properly screen U.S. military veterans in deportation proceedings is an even bigger issue recently as fewer military veterans are naturalizing due to the Department of Defense's policy change under the Trump Administration (October 2017 Memo), and, therefore, more U.S military veterans are capable of being found removable for certain offenses. Prior to this recent change in policy, recruits were quickly naturalized before deployment and within weeks of basic training. However, under the Trump Administration, the Pentagon directs the following requirements for eligibility for naturalization based on military service: (1) Recruits on active duty have served at least 180 consecutive days (2) Recruits in the Selected Reserve or in the Ready Reserve have been in the Reserve at least a year (3) Recruits with at least a day in a hazardous duty area.
The GAO report also found that it is harder for deported veterans to access their VA benefits. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security replied to the GAO report by concurring with several of the GAO's recommendations.
If you or your family member is a member or a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces and have immigration related concerns, you may contact Attorney Rebecca Carcagno for a free initial consultation (734) 999-0360. Thank you for your service!
***Please keep in mind that this blog posting is for educational purposes only (i.e., to give you general information and a general understanding of this immigration related matter); this blog posting does not provide specific legal advice and does not form an attorney-client relationship.***
The Law Offices of Rebecca Carcagno PLLC
3830 Packard Street, Suite 240
Ann Arbor, MI 48108