Estimated 1,000 American veterans can’t return to US because of immigration status, report claims

It is estimated that around 1,000 US veterans have been deported and are unable to return to the US.

Under an act former President Bill Clinton signed and former President Barack Obama enforced, hundreds of veterans have been deported due to crimes committed after their discharge.

Most of these veterans were born in another country, moved to the US, and joined the military hoping to gain their citizenship through this avenue. For many of these former soldiers, joining the military was the easiest path to US citizenship. Gaining US citizenship through any avenue is a lengthy process, however, and many didn’t realize that they wouldn’t automatically be handed a green card or US citizenship upon discharge from the military.

Despite being returned to the country they were born in, for many, the US was almost all they knew, having grown up there. As a result, returning to their country of origin was not ideal, as they may not speak the language or have family and/or connections upon their return. Adjusting to a new life completely different from the one they’ve known, often alone, and dealing with mental and physical health issues that developed from their service, has made the transition very difficult for many of them.

The Biden administration made promises in July to return many of these veterans back to the US legally, with the Department of Homeland Security even halting current deportation proceedings against veterans. And earlier this week, a group of Democrat senators drafted a bill that would end deportations for some US veterans.

But, it’s not as simple as putting them on a plane, pardoning crimes, and handing them US citizenship. While some committed crimes involving illegal marijuana or possession of a weapon, other committed more serious crimes, like sexual assault and domestic violence.

Although a government report said that just 92 out of 250 noncitizen veterans who committed crimes were deported between 2013 and 2018, groups representing these very people believe the number to be much higher. PBS is releasing a documentary covering the stories of deported US veterans, which will air November 16.




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