Iraq War Veterans Face Deportation

Thanks to Hector Lopez for pointing this out. (Though we have to say that the talk of heroes is not our view.)

Military Falsely Promises Automatic U.S. Citizenship

American heroes are returning home after months of risking their lives for our country to face the unimaginable: the threat of being deported from the country they fought so hard to protect.


Take the case of Orlando Castanea. Brought to the United States from Mexico by his parents at the age of three, Castanea grew up in America. As an adult, he joined the U.S. Army and spent 12 months fighting in Iraq. He was told that his military service would secure his application for citizenship. Then, only months after returning from Iraq, Castanea received a deportation letter.

Castanea is not alone. Marine Corporal Phillipe Louis Jean also faced the threat of deportation after serving in Iraq. Louis Jean had previously been court-martialed for adultery, but the minor infraction was not serious enough to prevent the Marine Corps from sending him to serve in Iraq. Upon his return, however, it was apparently serious enough to threaten him with deportation. Though his case was dismissed on a technicality, Louis Jean will never be able to attain citizenship because of that court-martial, regardless of his brave service to America.

Jan A. Ruhman, a Veterans activist, has taken it upon herself to fight on behalf of veterans who are threatened with deportation. Apparently, Iraq War Veterans are not the only ones being faced with this travesty. Ruhman was first alerted to the problem by the story of a U.S. Marine Corps Gulf War I combat veteran. Since then, she has discovered that veterans of even earlier wars have been faced with deportation proceedings, many of them being forced to leave the country permanently. According to Ruhman, over 3,000 veterans are currently incarcerated and under threat of deportation nation wide.

Many veterans that Ruhman and her colleagues interviewed claimed that automatic U.S. Citizenship was promised to them by recruitment officers in return for service. In reality, non-citizens who serve in the military must still apply for citizenship. However, many veterans who did submit applications were left by the wayside, as their applications did not follow them once they were deployed to a combat zone.

For more information on this issue, please visit:

Jan A. Ruhman. "American Combat Veterans Facing Deportation."

KPFA Radio. "When I Got Back From Iraq, They Tried to Deport Me."

Live Leak. "Iraq Vet Being Deported."

People in this conversation

  • Guest - Haj Ahmar

    These peaple decided to get involved in a war of agression against Iraq that resulted in the murder of over 1 million iraquis just to get a citizenship. Why should anybody be sorry for them?

  • Guest - nando

    Haj raises an important contradiction.

    The answer hinges on the word "decided" -- and also on the class nature of U.S. society.

    Odd as it may seem (to many of us here), many people "decide" to join the U.S. military out of the entwined motives of (a) helping themselves (through school, or a "job'), and (b) because on some level they think it "serves the country" (and will bring them the praise of "serving the country"). Many immigrants, children of immigrants and Native peoples see it as a one-stop move for legitimacy -- in a society where they have been demonized and marginalized.

    And the class nature of the society jumps up because people are "used and then thrown away." They go kill, but also die for this empire. They often come back shaken, disillusioned or maimed at the end.

    Regardless of their motives (or their current state of consciousness) the discarding and abuse of returning soldiers is a crime of this system -- and injustice. And it is one that clashes (sharply, sharply) with the official drumbeat about "honoring" the soldiers. It is a place that the heartlessness of capitalism emerges, i.e. that <em>even</em> those who "chose" to "serve" are discarded when they are no longer useful.

    So yes, there is nothing honorable about "serving" this empire. The participation in the U.S. military operations is to participate in great and historic crimes (even if the individuals sit in some airconditioned cubicle or serve as a military chaplain or whatever). And yes, it is a terrible "choice" to have made -- when high school kids (largely in rural or poor areas) get convinced that the military is a way to "improve your life" and "serve other people."

    But the treatment of soldiers (regardless of the character of the war, and the character of their choices) is an injustice, and a exposure of the ways capitalism degrades its own claims of value and honor in the grubbing for profit.

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