LatinaLista — It goes without saying that the men and women of our armed forces who fight on behalf of our country deserve to be respected and honored for that service — regardless of their citizenship status.
In many ways, the men and women who are not citizens of the United States but choose to sacrifice their lives for a country that they feel wholeheartedly is their home, though they may not have been born here, deserve extra kudos because their volunteerism runs much deeper than someone who is a citizen.
So, the news that there are more than 3,000 veterans incarcerated under threat of deportation because they are not US citizens is not just outrageous but appalling.
According to an Associated Content article, several undocumented immigrants who were told that if they joined the service they would be granted citizenship are now finding themselves ready to be dispatched overseas again — across the US-Mexico border.
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.
Forgetting the fact that Orlando grew up in the US, his service should be more than enough reason to justify his stay in this country, along with, those other thousands of former soldiers who were seen as equal to their peers when being sent to fight abroad.
That suddenly they are less than equal because they are now back on US soil serves as an ugly commentary on how this country treats undocumented soldiers. Yet, perhaps it shouldn’t be too surprising since Ruhman discovered some interesting tactics utilized by some military recruiters.
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.
These sad examples are all the more reason that the DREAM Act needs to be passed and quickly before any more soldiers find themselves facing the most senseless and uphill battle of their lives — proving they love this country.