Reading: Deported veterans: Banished for committing crimes after serving in the U.S. military – Washington Post

From a great Washington Post article published earlier this week.

Changes to immigration laws in the US in 1994 and 1996 mean that Green Card holders that served in the military and go on to commit crimes are deported –

Retired Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, who served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005, said deporting veterans “is not fair, and it’s not appropriate for who we are as a people.”

“One thing America has always done is revere its veterans,” he said. “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.”

Although deported veterans are banned for life, they are welcome to return when they are dead. Honorably discharged veterans, even deportees, are entitled to burial at a U.S. military cemetery with an engraved headstone and their casket draped with an American flag, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. VA will even pay $300 toward the cost of bringing a deportee’s remains to the United States.

via Deported veterans: Banished for committing crimes after serving in the U.S. military – Washington Post.

In a further twist, crimes for immigrants have a different (?) classification system –

First, Congress, in an effort to tighten immigration controls, greatly expanded the list of more than 30 categories of offenses for which a person can be deported, adding crimes such as forgery and any theft that carries a sentence of one year or more.

The government calls those offenses “aggravated felonies,” but immigration lawyers say that many of them do not fit the common definitions of “aggravated” or “felony.” Shoplifting is generally a nonviolent misdemeanor, but if a judge imposes a sentence of one year or more — even if that sentence is suspended — a noncitizen shoplifter can be deported.

The definition of “aggravated felony” is “a fraud on the American people,” said Margaret Stock, an Alaska immigration lawyer who is also a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Military Police and taught at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Stock said she once defended a National Guardsman in Alaska who was charged with a firearms violation after he drove into a school parking lot, forgetting that his legally registered gun was in the car.

Federal officials tried to deport him to the Philippines. Stock said she was able to avert the deportation by persuading the local prosecutor to downgrade the offense to disorderly conduct.

Stock said the complex list of “aggravated felonies” is the subject of regular challenges that occasionally reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

The way that these laws are structured often limits or removes the Judge’s ability to exercise discretion.

Very interesting article and well worth a read.