By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader
The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. joined Rev. Emma Lozano and other veterans in calling on congress and President Obama to return more than 3,000 U.S. “green card” veterans who have been deported due to their drug additions and are now “living without a country.”
Asking all veterans to stand, Rev. Jackson spoke on the deportation of Latino, Haitians and South Americans. When he first became aware of this issue, Jackson said in California farm workers were going to have a meeting on that Tuesday.
“They brought 3,000 Latinos across the borders to undercut the farm workers who were set to organize. Once they came here, they joined the military and joined the front line, then they could get citizenship. Many of them got their citizenship as they lowered their caskets into the grave. We call them ‘Green Card’ soldiers….”
“They fought for the country and now they are homeless. We stand with these soldiers,” said Jackson.
Lozano, the wife of Rev. Walter “Slim” Coleman, representing the Familia Latina Unida, and pastor of the Lincoln United Methodist Church, said there are at least 3,000 deported U.S. veterans living in 30 countries of origin.
Lozano, her supporters including other deported veterans left for Washington, D.C. Sunday to call for the return of the “green card” soldiers. She said the veterans entered the U.S. military as legal permanent residents and upon their return to America many suffered from PTSD and ultimately became drug addicted.
“People should be able to pay for their crime with their time and be able to go on and live their lives, but we also have to take into account that these are veterans. They came back scarred from the war even though they are decorated, honorably discharged with all of these medals, they came back with PTSD and now that is being recognized,” she said.
“We have to make sure we service them,” Lozano said. “When they come back home and they don’t get serviced, they start self-medicating and start acting out…the PTSD…and they catch cases.
“If you are a permanent resident and not yet a citizen even though you fought in a war, you are deportable,” explained. Lozano. “That is what is happening to many of them. The moment they raised their hand and gave that oath, they should have been given citizenship because if they were a citizen, they would have just paid the price and went on with their lives.”
Agreeing was Jesus Manuel Valenzuela. “It is a disgrace and dishonor to all of us not just to the military veterans. They are suffering without a country. America throws them away to a country they never really lived. They were born there, but that country then asks why did they fight for America. They are living without a country and that is not the way it is supposed to be. We’re military veterans for America and we should stay in America. We fought for this right…all of us,” he said.
Lozano added, “Unfortunately, these military veterans who are deported live in poverty and are humiliated outside of their country sometimes in dangerous situations. They can return, but return dead and they will give them a military burial…. It is so wrong. These veterans were not yet U.S. citizens.”
She told of veterans who were serving in Afghanistan and his permanent residency card (the green card) had expired but he was at war “concentrating on where he was at trying to stay alive. Upon his return, he was thrown into deportation proceedings for having let that date expire. These are little bureaucracies that show how broken this system is.”
She gave another example of the unfair system. Having worked with the Ashley Memorial Project, Lozano said Ashley Sietsema was killed in Kuwait in 2007. Her father, Alberto Segura suffered from trauma and drug addition. He is facing deportation.
His wife, Olivia, said, “When the soldier goes to war, the whole family goes to war. When the soldier dies, the whole family dies.”
Lozano said the City Council, the Cook County Board of Commissioners, the National GI Forum, LULAC National, LULAC Illinois have either passed resolutions calling for congressional relief for the green card soldiers.
That is why she and her supporters went to Washington, D.C. on Memorial Day calling on Congress and President Barack Obama to bring them home. “He can use his executive action to bring them home. It would be a tribute to his already growing legacy,” Lozano said.