A coalition of deported veterans seeks to attract the attention of Republican lawmakers to push for legislation to stop the expulsion of former veterans and allow re-entry of those now outside the country.
“We need a few brave Republicans to stop this nonsense,” said President of the Honorable Disgruntled Dies, Honorable Discharged (HDDD), former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher.
“If there is something in which we can agree on immigration laws, it should be that those who were willing to serve the country and were promised citizenship, have citizenship,” he said.
The HDDD coalition in conjunction with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) held a public forum in San Diego, California today to raise awareness about this problem known at the border, but ignored in the capital or other parts of the country.
By 2016, there were about 300,000 non-US veterans living in the United States, of whom about 97,000 do not have US citizenship, according to a report released last year by the ACLU. Of that number, it is believed that about 30,000 reside in Los Angeles and San Diego.
Although there is no official number of how many veterans have been deported, activists estimate that they could be in the thousands.
Veterans were promised naturalization after having enlisted in the military but due to a series of bureaucratic failures they did not receive citizenship despite being honorably discharged, the report said.
Earlier this month, a delegation of Democratic congressmen traveled to the support home of deported veterans in Tijuana, Mexico, to hear out loud the stories of those ex-combatants who are now separated from their families.
Texas congressman Vicente Gonzalez, who was part of the delegation, met in mid-month with President Donald Trump to expose the problem, which the president showed interest, according to a letter sent by the legislator to the president .
So far, at least half a dozen law initiatives have been presented to Congress to curb the deportation of veterans and allow re-entry of those who have been discharged with honors and have not committed felonies.
However, despite the fact that such proposals allow the issue of veteran deportees to be debated, bipartisan support and consensus are required to succeed in the legislative process.
“Without Republican support they will never advance,” said Norma Chavez-Peterson, ACLU director in San Diego, who said that by the end of the year they will travel to Washington to bring the issue to Congress.
Daniel Torres, an ex-combatant who served in the Navy as an undocumented immigrant and received US citizenship last year, is now one of the voices he struggles for fellow veterans to also have a chance to return to the United States.
“Actions, not words, can present a thousand proposals of law but until there is a change, a reform that stops the deportation of veterans and that returns to all those who have deported, until then we will not stop fighting for that problem” .