Marine Corps vet who served in Iraq faces deportation to El Salvador, where he left at age 3: report

A Marine Corps veteran who served two tours in Iraq is facing deportation to El Salvador, where he hasn’t lived since the age of three, NBC News reported Saturday.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security told The Hill on Monday that Jose Segovia-Benitez was placed in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after he served time in prison for a variety of crimes including assault with a deadly weapon and injuring a spouse.

{mosads}An immigration judge ordered Segovia-Benitez “removed to his home country” on Oct. 10, 2018, the spokeswoman added. She said he then appealed his case with the Board of Immigration Appeals, but the appeal was denied. Requests filed by Segovia-Benitez with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals were similarly denied, the spokeswoman said.

She said Segovia-Benitez is “a citizen of El Salvador who has repeatedly violated the laws of the United States” and has an “extensive criminal history” in the U.S.

Authorities had reportedly placed the 38-year-old combat veteran on a plane headed to El Salvador last week, but he was taken off the plane before it departed. It is unclear why Segovia-Benitez was removed from the plane.

ICE did not provide further information into the matter in its statement to The Hill.

Lawyers and supporters of Segovia-Benitez told NBC News that he didn’t start having run-ins with police until after he was honorably discharged from the military in 2004. Segovia-Benitez, who NBC reports had received a number of awards throughout his military career, had reportedly suffered a brain injury while in service the year before he was discharged.

Brandee Dudzic, executive director of the group Repatriate our Patriots, told ABC News that Segovia-Benitez wasn’t diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder until 2011.

Segovia-Benitez’s family said that he began to have trouble after his discharge because he was self-medicating with alcohol. They told ABC News that while they did not condone his criminal actions, they believed the government failed to provide adequate care for him after he was discharged.

Carlos Luna, the president of Green Card Veterans, told NBC News that if Segovia-Benitez “had the medical resources available that he needed, then he may not have ever ended up in a courtroom.”

Former Air Force Master Sergeant Jeff Merrick also blasted Segovia-Benitez’s possible deportation, as well as the deportations of other veterans, as a “total disgrace” by the government.

“They got into trouble, yes, they had issues, but they served their time, and instead of like other citizens, where they’re released back into the community, where they can have a life again, they’re committed to a life term of exile,” he said.

Segovia-Benitez’s family and supporters are turning to California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) for help in hopes that he will pardon the veteran, who grew up in Long Beach.

“It’s just cruel,” his mother, Martha Garcia, told NBC News. “This is the country he belongs in, the country he fought for.”

A DHS spokeswoman confirmed to The Hill that Segovia-Benitez is being held in “ICE custody pending removal.”

Updated on Monday at 10:12 a.m.

Tags California combat veteran Deportation DHS El Salvador Gavin Newsom Immigration and Customs Enforcement Long Beach Marine Corps

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