Duckworth celebrates Veterans Day with deported veterans in Mexico

Duckworth celebrates Veterans Day with deported veterans in Mexico
© Greg Nash

Sen. Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthLawmakers call for investigation into program meant to help student loan borrowers with disabilities Overnight Energy: Protesters plan Black Friday climate strike | 'Father of EPA' dies | Democrats push EPA to abandon methane rollback Democratic senators push EPA to abandon methane rollback MORE (D-Ill.), a combat veteran and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said she celebrated Veterans Day in Tijuana, Mexico, with U.S. veterans who have been deported since fighting for the country.

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“I am ashamed of and heartbroken by how our nation is treating the deported Veterans I met with today," Duckworth said in a statement after her Monday trip.

The senator said the veterans are "Americans all but on paper." Many enlisted after President George W. Bush signed an executive order fast-tracking citizenship for "for those willing to serve — but who, because of things like lost paperwork, fell through the cracks, never officially became citizens," she said. 

 

Duckworth reintroduced three bills this year to prohibit the deportation of veterans who are not violent offenders and offer a path to citizenship through military service. 

“I refuse to let them believe that everyone in government has forsaken them, and I want them to know that I haven’t — which is why I spent this Veterans Day at that makeshift refuge in Mexico, recognizing the sacrifices they made for the country they love,” Duckworth said. 

A Government Accountability Office report released in June found that 92 veterans had been removed from the country between 2013 and 2018. However, groups of deported veterans estimate the number is far higher, Peoria Public Radio reported.

The government report found that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “did not consistently follow” policies that require officers to consider service records if noncitizen veterans violate immigration law before deporting them. 

In a statement in response to the report, ICE dismissed the report’s finding that the agency did not consistently follow the policy. 

“(ICE) respects the service and sacrifice of those in military service, and is very deliberate in its review of cases involving veterans. Any action taken by ICE that may result in the removal of an individual with military service must be authorized by the senior leadership in a field office, following an evaluation by local counsel,” ICE said in a statement. 

-- Updated at 11:20 a.m.