According to reporting from The Washington Post, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been deporting American veterans without ever reviewing their service status. This is taking place despite an internal agency policy that requires federal immigration agents to consider a veteran’s military records before initiating the deportation process. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has now released its full report on military veterans and deportation. Here, our deportation lawyer provides an overview of the GAO’s findings and explains the agency’s recommendations going forward.
How Many Military Veterans Have Been Deported? ICE Has No Idea
You do not have to be a citizen to serve in the United States military. Many immigrants have signed up to serve our country. Tragically, our own government has senselessly deported a number of these veterans, including veterans who were deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. How many U.S. veterans have been deported by ICE? The agency cannot answer this question. Despite internal policies requiring the agency to consider veteran status prior to starting removal proceedings, the GAO has determined that ICE does not even collect data on veteran status.
The GAO confirmed that at least 250 American veterans were removed from the country between the fiscal year of 2013 and the fiscal year of 2018. However, that should be taken as a baseline, minimum number. It is likely that there were cases of military veterans being deported that were not documented by the GAO. Indeed, the Government Accountability Office acknowledges as much in its report. In response to the release of this report, Congressman Mark Takano (D-California) stated that deporting military veterans “represents a failure by our government.” This is a failure that could and should have been prevented if only ICE complied with its own policies.
The GAO Recommendations: Deportation and Military Veterans
In its 40-page report, the GAO suggests that federal immigration enforcement needs to become more fair and transparent regarding how it treats military veterans. Currently, the agency is simply rushing through removal proceedings, not considering many factors that are required. Specifically, the U.S. Government Accountability Office makes the following three recommendations to ICE:
- Make sure that removal cases involving military veterans are being handled in a consistent manner;
- Develop and implement effective policies to ensure that veteran status is identified; and
- Collect and publish comprehensive data on military veterans and deportation.
For its part, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) states that it concurs with all three recommendations from the GAO.
Get Help From Our Deportation Defense Attorney Now
At the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, our dedicated immigration attorney has the skills and experience needed to handle the complete range of deportation cases. If you or your family member received a Notice to Appear (NTA), we are available to help. For a fully private immigration consultation, please call us at our Los Angeles office immediately. We represent clients in removal proceedings throughout Southern California.