Immigrants have been in the ranks of various branches of the U.S. Military since the Revolutionary War. And historically it has been a common path for many immigrants to come to this country to obtain their citizenship or to get a foothold in the United States through serving in the military.
If you go to any recruitment office today and say you are an immigrant most likely you will be presented with a picture of a bright future after your service, which will include citizenship. The same promises were made to all of the veterans who later found themselves in an unimaginable situation: being deported from the country they served. Some thought the citizenship would come automatically with military service. Some claim they were naturalized during their military service but don’t have the means to prove it now.
Until 1996 there hasn’t been any record of veterans being deported from the United States. After Congress passed new immigration laws in 1996 and expanded the list of offences which made non-citizens eligible for deportation, some veterans fell victim to these new laws. Before 1996, the immigration judges had greater power to be lenient to some groups including veterans and could stop the deportation procedures. However, after the passing of these new immigration laws, once the deportation process has started there was almost no legal leeway for the person to stay in the United States, including those who have served.