As the activity and rhetoric from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continues to increase, new details are emerging about cases of decorated veterans from immigrant families being deported due to improper status. Serving in the military has always, since America’s founding, been a fast-track for immigrants to gain full citizenship, yet today decorated, patriotic, and very much American veterans have found themselves unable to return home because of technicalities with their visa.
During World War II, thousands of Americans lied about their age to enlist in the military. During the Iraq war, Daniel Torres lied about something else.
“I didn’t want to be just another Mexican living in the U.S. I wanted to say I’d done something for the country,” said Torres.
Torres’ parents came to the U.S. legally, but overstayed their visas — leaving him without a green card. But in 2007, with the death toll in Iraq and Afghanistan peaking, a Marine Corps recruiter in Idaho was happy to rush through the formalities. Social Security number? Check. High school diploma? Check. Criminal record? None.
“Well, what about your birth certificate?” Torres remembers the recruiter asked.
“I’m from Mexico,” Torres said. “He’s like, ‘Well, come back Monday.’ “
Torres came back Monday with a U.S. birth certificate — it was fake, but for a good cause, he thought.
He deployed to Iraq, near Fallujah, in 2009. When his unit came home and started gearing up for a tour in Afghanistan, Torres lost his wallet. When he tried to get his ID replaced, his story came apart.
Instead of going to Afghanistan, Torres wound up in Tijuana, Mexico, unable to return to the country for which he had fought.
Immigration has been one of the main issues on the campaign trail, particularly for the GOP candidates. We have seen all of the leading candidates pledge to be tougher in enforcing our deportation laws, but are they prepared to deport those who have risked their lives for American freedom?