“Deported” and “veteran” are two words that should never be in the same sentence. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of U.S. military veterans who have been exiled from the country after putting their lives on the line for it.
A photo went viral on Veterans Day depicting a group of Mexican men saluting the flags of their U.S military units. These veterans served in the U.S. military and fought in the Vietnam and Iraq wars, in order to become citizens, but were denied and deported to Mexico.
Serving in the military does not guarantee citizenship but does make the process of acquiring citizenship easier.
The veterans staged a protest in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, to raise awareness of how poorly they were treated. Many of the U.S. military vets suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, courtesy of the horrors they saw during war.
Worldwide, there are as many as 230 military veterans who were deported from the U.S. because of a crime they committed. The veterans are well-aware there is little sympathy in America for ex-convicts but they argue they have served their time — and they now are permanently exiled from the country for which they were willing to lay down their lives for.
"We served a country that has cheated us. It is so unfair. They separated us from our families, and we are alone here with no health care or assistance of any kind," said Jose Francisco Lopez , who served in Vietnam but was deported to Mexico in 2004.
"For as long as I live, even if I die on this side, I will always love the U.S. flag. That was my life," said Ivan Ocon, who served in Iraq in 2003 but was deported in 2016. "You think that you would not be deported because you were part of something so great, but in the end, they throw you out just the same.”
“We want to go back. That's what we are asking Donald Trump. We fought for your country," he added.
“Many of us believe that they should be allowed to become citizens,” said Rep. Joaquín Castro of Texas to NBC News. “Many, if not most, were legal permanent residents, who were eligible to become citizens and perhaps never applied — they stood up for their country and put their lives on the line.”
The deportation of these undocumented veterans is reflective of how poorly America treats its vets. Even after fighting for the country’s freedom, many of these former military personnel never get to reap its rewards.
Ivan Ocon is pleading for the president to welcome them back in the country. But considering the fact Trump himself is a racist bigot with no respect for the military, his plea may not be answered.
This veteran's day, I think the best way to say thank you for your service to our vets is to stop treating then like garbage when their service ends. We should have 0 homeless vets, no vet should ever be deported, we need better healthcare, and stop attacking medical marijuana*.— Erin (@Ebay313) November 11, 2017
Deported Veterans? In 2017 we have President Bone-spur in charge of the nuclear codes and these former servicemen celebrating Veteran's Day in another country they were deported to. https://t.co/6nbJmoadS4— Andrea Biondi (@Abiondi04) November 13, 2017
Banner/Thumbnail credit: REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez