Press and Commentary
The Washington Post - August 13, 2021
After hiking for 45 days, Marine veteran Ramon Castro is reportedly nearing the end of a 2,000-mile trek along the U.S.-Mexico border to protest the deportation of noncitizen veterans. Over the past two decades, thousands of noncitizens enlisted in the U.S. military, providing critical contributions to operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. Despite their service, the U.S. government deported perhaps thousands of these veterans from the nation they fought to defend.
It’s hard to know the exact numbers: in 2019, the Government Accountability Office found that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) didn’t consistently keep records of the numbers of veterans it deported — and didn’t consistently follow special procedures it had established for veterans facing removal.
The modern U.S. military relies deeply on its foreign recruits — roughly 5,000 noncitizens enlist each year. Approximately 24,000 noncitizens are currently serving in uniform. Yet, as Castro’s march underscores, the fates of these noncitizens can be precarious. [...]