|Download PDF of this full issue: v40n1.pdf (10.4 MB)|
Stop the Deportation of US Veterans
By Jan A. Ruhman
When I first heard of the deportation of veterans I said, "Bullshit, they don't deport veterans." After 62 years I should have known better. At first I became pissed off at yet another example of our government treating veterans like condoms, "use them once and throw them away." When I calmed down I took action.
Rohan Coombs, USMC, Gulf War I Veteran
(facing Deportation and being held by ICE in El Centro, California)
If you had Googled "deportation of veterans, deporting US military veterans, banished veterans" or any combination of words to describe this national disgrace in January of 2009 you would have found very little on this injustice. Since then we have, with the guidance and assistance of a dedicated immigration and criminal defense attorney, Heather Boxeth, who serves as lead council:
- Formed a National Banished Veterans Defense Committee and Clearing House in San Diego California.
- Drafted the proposed Amendment to the Law and Legal Rational.
- Created a Banished Veterans brochure with an outline of the issue, proposed change in law, a brief history and talking points.
- Created a letter for concerned citizens to send to the President of the United States and to the Director of Homeland Security requesting that they stay further deportation of former US military veterans
- Gave dozens of interviews to newspapers, radio and television.
- Spoke before the Military Order of the Purple Heart and the American Legion as well as numerous community groups in Southern California.
- Presented the issue to the Veterans For Peace National Convention in 2009 and put on a workshop with a panel that included a Vietnam era veteran and member of VVAW, Louie Alvarez, who is facing deportation, a family member, Angelica Madrigal, our lead attorney, Heather Boxeth and me.
- Traveled to Washington DC, walked the halls of Congress and lobbied members of Congress.
- Lobbied Congressional Representatives in San Diego, Orange County and Pennsylvania.
- Presented the issue to the 2009 National Lawyers Guild Convention which adopted a resolution to form a National Banished Veterans Committee of the NLG to advocate for a change in the laws to make all veterans "US Nationals."
- Submitted a Resolution to the Democratic Caucus process in Colorado that is currently being shepherded through the system by Calixto Cabrera of VVAW.
- Met with all five members of the San Diego Congressional Delegation and several other districts in Southern California with members of Veterans For Peace, Chapter 91 who have adopted the issue as a main focus of concern for community outreach and congressional action.
- Set-up a website run by the affected veterans at www.banishedveterans.info
In short we have shined a light on an issue that our government would like kept in the dark. But a year later little has changed, and the deportation of US military veterans continues unabated.
It's time to shine a brighter light on this injustice. It's time to take this issue to all Congressional Districts in all 50 states. It's time to take this issue to all veterans' organizations nationally and to ask them to support a resolution to protect these veterans.
These men served. They were willing to die to protect and defend this nation. We can do no less than form and deploy the reactionary squad and march to the sounds of the battle in defense of these veterans.
To view the photos and read the stories of some of the Banished Veterans go to the website that they have created and run at www.banishedveterans.info and if you are so moved click on "Donate."
CALL TO ACTION
At this very moment as you read this, upwards of 4,000 former members of the US Military who have served from Vietnam to OEF and OIF are facing deportation and in 2009 about that many were deported.
The VVAW National Office has officially adopted this proposal as a national program.
Text of National Resolution
Resolution on amending the United States Code to clearly state that US military service members are "non citizen nationals" and to petition the Department of Homeland Security to stay their removal from the United States of America;
- Whereas United States Service members are being and have been deported after serving in the military from the United States;
- Whereas the current United States Code provides: that the term "national of the United States" means:
- a citizen of the United States, or
- a person who, though not a citizen of the United States, owes permanent allegiance to the United States. 8 U.S.C. 1101(a) (22)
- Whereas Federal law requires everyone who enlists or re-enlists in the Armed Forces of the United States to take the Oath of Enlistment. This oath is a permanent oath of allegiance to the United States of America. The oath is traditionally performed in front of the United States Flag and other flags, such as the state flag, military branch flag and states:
"I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."
- Whereas the Oath of Enlistment is quite similar to the Oath of Citizenship which is also a permanent oath of allegiance to the United States of America and states:
"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God."
- Whereas US military veterans who are currently being deported or have been deported have a long history in the United States;
- They are legal permanent residents "Green Card Veterans" prior to entering the military;
- They have served in all branches of the military for years;
- They have served in Vietnam, Grenada, Kosovo, Somalia, Persian Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan;
- They have lived from 16 - 48 years legally in the United States;
- Their Parents, Spouses, Children, Siblings, Partners are United States Citizens and Legal Permanent Residents.
- They are Business Owners;
- They are recipients of the GI Bill
- Whereas they are subject to removal or have been removed due to criminal convictions; There is a moral question as to whether the character flaws and, in some instances, the commission of a crime, which would lead to denial of citizenship, are themselves the result of the psychological stress of service in war;
- Whereas the US has a duty to protect those who protected it, regardless of their personal character. The United States now, and historically, has treated aliens admitted for an indefinite period, whether as lawful permanent residents, refugees or asylees, as other countries would treat non citizen "nationals" or subjects." It requires these individuals to submit to the draft, to have an allegiance of political loyalty to the United States subjecting them to the death penalty for betraying that allegiance, and itself treats the individuals when in uniform as American nationals for a variety of purposes, including American jurisdiction in its Status-of-Forces Agreements.
- Whereas the removal of veterans, particularly those who served during times of hostility, present a number of problems that the removal of other aliens do not:
- There is the possible loss of native citizenship rendering the individual stateless;
- There is the possibility of criminal charges awaiting the alien in their native land for his service in the war; and
- There is possible exposure to the jurisdiction of the ICC (even though the US doesn't partake) or the courts of their native lands for alleged war crimes committed while in an American uniform.
Therefore be it resolved that Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Inc. calls upon the US House of Representatives and US Senate to amend the United States Code to clearly state:
"The following shall be nationals, but not citizens of the United States: (1) A person who, by conscription or enlistment, entered any branch of the United States armed forces. This shall be retroactive to service persons previously removed from the United States."
Be it further resolved that Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Inc. calls upon the Department of Homeland Security to stay their removal from the United States of America;
Be it further resolved that Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Inc. will establish a VVAW National Banished Veterans Defense Committee open to all members and chapters to coordinate action by the National Office in support of legislation to clearly state that US military service members are "noncitizen nationals" and petition the Department of Homeland Security to stay their removal from the United States of America, to work with other national veterans organizations and grassroots organizations, in efforts to strengthen the national campaign; and
Be it further resolved that the VVAW Banished Veterans Defense Committee will help organize and coordinate events at the local, state, and national level to educate the public and to build public participation in the campaign, to push for enactment of legislation and a stay of removal for these veterans without further delay; and
Be it further resolved that the VVAW Banished Veterans Defense Committee will coordinate and assist all willing VVAW members in contacting their respective members of Congress to urge support of the proposed legislation to ask their respective member of Congress to support upcoming legislation, (bill numbers to be announced) and request the Department of Homeland Security to stay the removal of the US military veterans; and
Be it further resolved that the National Office of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Inc. calls upon all other state and national veterans organizations, state and local government bodies, community organizations, labor unions to adopt similar resolutions and to use all their resources to build the campaign to clearly state that US military service members are "noncitizen nationals" and petition the Department of Homeland Security to stay their removal from the United States of America; and
Be it further resolved that Vietnam Veterans Against the War will forward a copy of this resolution to the Speaker and the Clerk of the US House of Representatives, to Representative John Conyers, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, to Representative Bob Filner, Chair of the House Veteran Affairs Committee, to the various state and federal veterans organizations, to other peace and justice organizations, other military organizations, and to the news media.
Implementation: By the VVAW Banished Veterans Defense Committee established by this resolution, by the National Office and by all interested members and local chapters.
Jan A. Ruhman was an activist member of VVAW in the 1970's in Los Angeles and Southern California and is the San Diego Contact for VVAW. He is a founding member of the Banished Veterans Defense Committee. He can be reached at email@example.com or at 858-361-6273.