The American GI Forum, El Camino Real Chapter, headquartered in Whittier, California stands with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) in condemning the deportations of U.S. service members and veterans’ family members following the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship hearing on the “Impact of Current Immigration Policies on Service Members and Veterans, and their Families” held on October 29, 2019 in Washington DC.
The hearing came after reports show active-duty personnel and veteran families are unjustly facing deportation orders under the Trump Administration’s zero-tolerance policy. During the Congressional hearing witnesses highlighted the cases of U.S. Marine Jose Segovia-Benítez who was abruptly deported to El Salvador. Mr. Segovia Benitez is a combat veteran who suffered traumatic brain injury from combat.
U.S. Marine Jose Segovia-Benitez, raised in Long Beach, California, was deported to El Salvador without notice to his attorneys, ICE Officials or his family. His military records reflect he served honorably in combat in both Iraq and Afghanistan and received multiple awards and decorations. Following his two tours, he returned home with traumatic brain injury and severe PTSD.
Segovia-Benitez was wrongly convicted of felonies and transported out of the United States after a five-day stay of his deportation. He did not receive the medical care to keep him out of a courtroom, a fate faced by many other combat veterans. In 2008, during a criminal trial in Los Angeles, the judge prohibited medical evidence, including detailed PTSD evidence, to be submitted as part of Segovia-Benitez’s defense. Due to financial constraints, Segovia-Benitez was unable to hire a lawyer to adequately defend himself against misdemeanor offenses convictions. These charges ultimately led to the deportation order.
A GAO report published in June of this year revealed that DHS agencies do not adhere to their protocols when faced with non-citizen veterans. The same can be said for Segovia-Benitez’s criminal convictions. The GAO report failed to disclose the constant harassment and verbal abuse veterans like Segovia-Benítez are subjected to by ICE guards throughout their detention. Had Jose Segovia-Benitez received the appropriate resources and legal team needed to defend him, the court would have inadequate reasons to order his deportation.
The American GI Forum, El Camino Real Chapter and The American GI Forum of California, are deeply concerned about Non Citizen veterans being deported without Due Process. Veterans who have served to defend the United States of America deserve to have adequate representation during deportation hearings. The idea that this Administration would deport our veterans after they have displayed true commitment to defend our freedom is unthinkable and should not be deported after they risked their lives and the lives of their families, to serve. Therefore we request that The Congress of the United States investigate any deportation cases to prevent unjustified deportations.
Jake Alarid, Past National Commander
American GI Forum of the U.S.
Commander, El Camino Real Chapter