As the Iraq War rages on and U.S. soldiers continue to die, recruitment by the U.S. military for youth people to fight for their country increases. It doesn't matter where you're from; as long as you're a U.S. citizen or a Permanent Legal Resident and over 18, the U.S. military wants you.
With the government's promise of many benefits after military service and the propaganda of patriotism, many young people are meeting the recruitment quotas.
However, for those Permanent Legal Residents who are promised U.S. citizenship for seving in the military, you better make sure it is in writing. Or else, you could be deported after your military service
Exhibit one who knows how many:
Hector G. Lopez, a 42-year-old Mexican national, has been living int he United States for 37 years as a Permanent Legal Resident. Mr. Lopez served 6 years in the United States Army National Guard and was honorably discharged. During the U.S. invasion of Grenada, the Pentagon activated Mr. Lopez to defend the stars and stripes. Military personnel had promised him U.S. citizenship who Mr. Lopez enlisted. After all, Mr. Lopez was willing to die for his country - the U.S.A.
Had Mr. Lopez died during his active duty, the U.S. government would have buried him as an American with its flag draped on his coffin. But he was honorably discharged. That's when his dream of being an American were shattered.
Years after Mr. Lopez was honorably discharged, he'd been convicted and served time for felonies of non-violent crimes. He was shocked when Immigration agents picked him up after he served his time in state prison and detained him for deportation because he was not a U.S. citizen.
With all his citizen family members living in the U.S., Mexico is foreign to Mr. Lopez as the battlefield of Grenada.
What's haunting Mr. Lopez's mind as he faces deportation is why there is no distinction of his citizenship when he is fighting on the battlefield, but when he commits crimes, the government says he is not a U.S. citizen?
Mr. Lopez is not proud of the mistakes he had made to commit those non-violent crimes. He is only asking for another chance to be a productive member of society in this country that he is willing to die for.
How many veterans have been deported and how many more face deportation and don't even know it?
To those Permanent Legal Residents who believe that you will be U.S. citizens automatically because you're in the military, please double check your paperwork and reasons for service.
To those veterans who had committed any type of felony, be ready, you may be the next ones being deported.
All veterans organizations should raise awareness on the deportation issue for non-U.S. citizens.
Those who would like to help Mr. Lopez or want to know more about his case can contact him directly:
Hector G. Lopez
225 E. 14th Street
Madera, CA 93638