Some lawfully deported foreigners are being allowed back into the United States if they have relatives in the U.S. military, according to a recent report in the Washington Post.
Biden’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, charged with removal operations, already issued a memo in May saying that service members and their immediate families generally should not be deported, the Washington Post reported.
“DHS [Department of Homeland Security] Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’s staff has been meeting with advocates, deported veterans, and members of Congress in recent weeks to gather information about the cases,” it added.
In a statement carried by the Post, DHS spokeswoman Marsha Espinosa noted that the department “recognizes the profound sacrifice that our military families make on behalf of our nation.”
“The Department is committed to bringing back military family members who were unjustly deported,” she added. “Additional steps will be taken to make sure that military families’ path to naturalization is easy.”
It is unclear how many cases are under review or how many veterans and their families have been returned to the U.S.
DHS is still “developing a rigorous, systematic approach to reviewing these cases,” Espinosa asserted.
U.S. authorities have been deporting criminal U.S. veterans and their families for decades, including when Joe Biden served as vice president.
Still, President Biden blasted his predecessor on the campaign trail for deporting veterans, dismissing the move as an “outrage” and vowing to create a process in his first 100 days for them to return to the United States.
The president has since expanded that review to their relatives. However, veteran advocates have noted that Biden has brought back into the United States few deported veterans and their families.
“President Biden made all these promises,” Margaret Stock, an immigration lawyer and retired Army officer who testified about the issue before a Senate panel on Wednesday. “I’ve hardly seen anybody brought back.”
The Democrat-led Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Safety staged a hearing to push for the return of deported veterans and their families.
Many deported veterans blame their illegal actions on post-traumatic stress order (PTSD) stemming from their service in combat.
During the hearing, witnesses urged the Biden administration to stop the deportation of all veterans and their families without saying anything about the criminal offense that may have triggered removal proceedings.
While the Post acknowledged authorities often remove veterans after their arrest for crimes, it did not detail what illegal activity the service members were involved in to warrant their removal.
For the most part, authorities remove non-citizen legal immigrants such as veterans over removal offenses, including Congress’s ever-expanding definition of “aggravated felonies,” crimes involving moral turpitude such as stealing, multiple criminal convictions, and drug trafficking.
Congress has repeatedly expanded the list and definition of “aggravated felonies.” Certain misdemeanors are considered “aggravated felonies” for immigration purposes.
If Congress adds a new crime to the list of “aggravated felonies,” it will automatically apply retroactively to prior convictions, resulting in the deportation of someone years after committing a crime.
It is unclear how many veterans and their families the U.S. has deported.
However, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news wire reported In 2017:
The ranks of deportees include veterans of US wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. No one has an exact count, but the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has tracked down nearly 300 of them.
They were swept up by changes in immigration laws, implemented in the mid-1990s, that greatly expanded the types of crimes — known as aggravated felonies — that trigger the mandatory deportation of legal permanent residents.
An aggravated felony can be any crime of violence with a sentence of a year or more, including domestic abuse and gun possession without a permit.
Many deported veterans fighting to return to the U.S. assert that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) stemming from their service in combat drove them into committing serious crimes such as felony drug trafficking. However, they stress that they did their time and deportation amounts to being punished twice.
Law enforcement arrested some of the deported vets with pounds of cocaine, an amount that is beyond what most addicts consider for personal consumption.