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Its 2016 And Latino Veterans Are Getting Discharged, Then Deported

Discharged, Then Deported is a new nonprofit that is trying to make the lives of military veterans better. The organization, which launched this week, will work with military veterans who served the United States as legal residents but were then denied citizenship and the basic medical assistance afforded to those who have fought for this country.

A new advocacy group, Discharged, Then Deported, is trying to make sure denial of medical services never happens again.

Credit: Discharged, Then Deported / Facebook
CREDIT: Credit: Discharged, Then Deported / Facebook

During a Sept. 19 press conference, Discharged, Then Deported chairman Nathan Fletcher laid out his coalition’s mission.

“As we see all too common with veterans, although they may have left the war, the war doesn’t always leave them. They struggle with post-service life. Oftentimes they turn to alcohol and substance abuse, and they run afoul of the law,” Fletcher stated. “After they had paid their debt to society for the actions they had taken, they were deported.”

That’s right. After fighting in a war for a country they love, some military veterans have been forcibly deported and denied medical treatment.

Credit: Parks And Rec. / NBC / hola105 / Tumblr
CREDIT: Credit: Parks And Rec. / NBC / hola105 / Tumblr

According to a report by the American Civil Liberties Union of California, there have been at least 239 cases of military vets deported in the state alone.

“By requiring deportation and stripping immigration courts of the power to consider military service, the United States government abandons these veterans by expelling them to foreign countries at the moment when they most need the government’s help to rehabilitate their lives after service,” Bardis Vakili, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU of California, said in a press release. “This is a tragic and disgraceful example of how broken our immigration system is.”

Immigration advocates are using the ACLU report to make sure that our boys who deal with conflict like this get the care they deserve.

According to The San Diego Union Tribune, California Rep. Juan Vargas will be introducing three new bills to try and help veterans who might face deportation due to our broken immigration system. The first would make naturalization information more accessible to military personnel, the second would create a tracking system so the government can keep tabs of the non-citizen military members, and the third will allow for those same non-citizens to enter the country to get any necessary medical treatments.

Let’s hope that soon we will see brave men and women coming home after war to this…

Credit: kaycehughes / BlogSpot
CREDIT: Credit: kaycehughes / BlogSpot

…rather than this.

Credit: LaSantaCeciliaVEVO / YouTube
CREDIT: Credit: LaSantaCeciliaVEVO / YouTube

Learn more about Discharged, Then Deported by tapping here. You can read the full ACLU report here.

READ: There’s a New Movie About ‘Green Card Soldiers’ Who Fight In The U.S. Military

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This Inmate Firefighter Was Nearly Killed Battling California Blazes But Now He’s Facing Deportation

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This Inmate Firefighter Was Nearly Killed Battling California Blazes But Now He’s Facing Deportation

David McNew / Getty Images

Across the United States there are hundreds of thousands of undocumented Americans doing their part to protect and better the country. But far too often, our communities and our leaders don’t return the favor.

One man, a former inmate who was injured while battling California’s historic wildfires, was turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after he was released from prison. Instead of being given a second chance, he faces likely deportation back to his native country of Laos – a place he hasn’t known since he was 4 years old.

A California man is facing deportation after nearly dying on the frontlines of the state’s wildfires.

A formerly incarcerated firefighter who helped battle California’s historic wildfires is now in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody, after the state notified the agency he was being released.

Bounchan Keola, 39, left his native Laos at the age of 4. His home is here in the United States – in San Leandro, CA to be exact. But he’s facing the ultimate punishment of being sent back to a place he knows nothing about.

“He made a mistake as a child. He came here impoverished and he was resettled as a refugee when he was 6,” said his San Francisco Asian Law Caucus attorney, Anoop Prasad. “And he literally risked his life. California didn’t have to call ICE to deport him…This case is extremely sad and unfortunate. Society has failed him again and again.” 

Even more shocking is that Keola only had 14 days left on his prison term when he was crushed by a tree while battling the Zogg Fire in early October. He was soon released from prison but then taken into immigration custody by ICE.

While fighting a wildfire, Keyla was severely injured.

Credit: David McNew / Getty Images

Although Keola was convicted of attempted second degree murder, not only has he served his term but he also gave back to the community as one of the thousands of inmate firefighters battling the state’s blazes. In fact, he received a shorter prison sentence because of the extra credit he earned for fighting fires. 

Incarcerated firefighters get two days credit off their sentence for every day they’re working and are paid up to $5 a day. It’s estimated they save the state tens of millions of dollars a year. 

But then Keola got injured.

While he was stationed in Redding, CA., a tree fell on him while he was clearing brush to stop the fire from spreading. He is still in excruciating pain, his lawyer said, and he has not received the proper medical attention.

Since his release from prison, Keola has been in ICE detention.

Just seven days after being injured and with seven days left in his prison term, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation notified ICE that his release would be coming up. On Oct. 16, the day Keola finished serving his prison sentence in Sacramento, ICE came to pick him up. On Oct. 29, an immigration judge ordered his removal to Laos, records show.

Since being picked up by ICE, Keola has been held at a detention facility in Kern County. Although he faces a deportation order, Laos doesn’t have a repatriation agreement with the U.S., which means he could end up staying in California. But his fate is still unclear. And only a pardon from Newsom, his attorneys said, would expunge his record and allow him to go home freely to his parents and sister. 

I just want to go home and give my mom and dad a hug,” Keola told The Guardian, the first news organization to report the story. “All I know is I’m American. I’ve never thought of myself not being a citizen. I’m just asking for that one, second chance.”

Keola’s fate is in the hands of Gov. Newsom as he awaits a potential pardon for his crime.

Gov. Newsom has painted himself as a champion of those who have been incarcerated and fought on the front lines to save California during the wildfire season. That’s why Keola and his attorney say that his fate is in the hands of the governor. He has asked for a pardon from his prison sentence, showing that he has changed for the better and that his service to the state battling wildfires should count for something.

On Sept. 11,  Newsom signed AB 2147, a bill that will allow formerly incarcerated people to be able to try to expunge their records and become professional firefighters. Inmates who have stood on the frontlines, battling historic fires should not be denied the right to later become a professional firefighter,” Newsom later said in a tweet after signing the bill. 

Yet Keola, an inmate fighting fire on the frontlines, hasn’t been given that chance. And although California is a sanctuary state, which forbids most cooperation with ICE, Keola was still handed over to the agency.

Newsom’s spokesperson, Jesse Melgar, said in a statement: “We are unable to discuss individual clemency applications, but can assure that each application receives careful and individualized consideration.”

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Memorial For Vanessa Guillen Was Vandalized And People Came Together To Clean It Up

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Memorial For Vanessa Guillen Was Vandalized And People Came Together To Clean It Up

LULAC / Facebook

Vanessa Guillen’s disappearance earlier this year ignited a firestorm of concern and anger across the country. The anger has resurfaced after a person vandalized and destroyed a memorial in honor of the murdered soldier. Here’s what we know so far about the vandalism that was caught on surveillance camera.

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) released surveillance footage of a person vandalizing the site.

Vandal Destroys Vanessa Guillen Memorial Mural in Killeen, Fort Hood

VANESSA GUILLEN MEMORIAL VANDALIZED HOURS AFTER HER BIRTHDAYNation’s Oldest and Largest Latino Civil Rights Organization Says Suspect Caught on Video at Site of Tribute Mural for Slain SoldierWashington, DC – The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) today asked for the public’s help in providing information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person caught on camera overnight defacing a public memorial site erected by the community to remember and honor Specialist Vanessa Guillen."I would ask that we focus on reminding the community that the mural is there to bring the community together and bring awareness to sexual assault, sexual harassment and its prevention,” said Analuisa Tapia, LULAC District Director. ’Our community has already been damaged by the loss of one too many soldiers. We ask that we collectively take care of the mural as we honor our service members who live in that silent combat,” she added.Rodolfo Rosales, Jr., Texas LULAC State Director and Linda Chavez, LULAC National Board Member and Vice-President for the Southwest are monitoring the situation. “We abhor any type of vandalism and destruction of property,” says Rosales. “The only thing we believe in is peaceful and nonviolent action,” he added.

Posted by LULAC on Friday, October 2, 2020

The vandalism occurred on Oct. 1 in the very early morning hours. The act is captured in its entirety on camera with the perpetrator attacked the memorial in Killeen, Texas multiple times.

“I would ask that we focus on reminding the community that the mural is there to bring the community together and bring awareness to sexual assault, sexual harassment and its prevention,” Analuisa Tapia, LULAC District Director, said in a statement. “Our community has already been damaged by the loss of one too many soldiers. We ask that we collectively take care of the mural as we honor our service members who live in that silent combat.”

People are outraged that someone would vandalize the memorial.

The attack on the memorial happened just hours after what would have been her 21 birthday. The video shows a person running through the memorial from the sidewalk and kicking over candles. They then double back and run back through the memorial kicking more candles. According to KCEN, the site was cleaned up and fixed just hours after the vandalism occurred.

“We abhor any type of vandalism and destruction of property,” Rodolfo Rosales, Jr., Texas LULAC State Director said in a statement. “The only thing we believe in is peaceful and nonviolent action.”

Guillen went missing on April 22 and growing public pressure led to a formal investigation.

On June 30, Guillen’s body was found not far from the military base where she was last seen. Another body of a missing soldier was found while authorities were searching for Guillen.

Shortly after the body was found, 20-year-old Army Specialist Aaron Robinson and Cecily Aguilar were the prime suspects. According to reports, Robinson admitted to killing Guille by striking her in the back of the head with a hammer.

State politicians are calling on authorities to find those responsible.

Guillen’s search was national news as people were desperate to learn what happened to the young Latina. Civilians were calling on the military to launch a formal investigation into Fort Hood to find out what happened to Guillen.

Police confronted Robinson about the death of Guillen and Robinson shot and killed himself. Aguilar was arrested by police in connection to Guillen’s death and disappearance. Aguilar is charged with one count of conspiracy to tamper with evidence after admitting Robinson asked her to help dispose of the body. She has entered a “not guilty” plea and her court date is scheduled for Sept. 28.

Rest easy, Vanessa Guillen.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Guillen family as they continue to grapple with this tragedy. After months of hoping to find their loved one, Guillen’s remains were discovered near the military base. The Guillen family has used the death to push for change and drafted legislation they hope will become law to help military personnel.

Guillen confided in family and friends that she was the victim of sexual harassment by Robinson. Her disappearance happened soon after she decided to come forward and report the harassment. The I Am Vanessa Guillen bill seeks to create an independent way for victims of sexual harassment in the military to report. The bill would also make sexual harassment a punishable offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

READ: Vanessa Guillen’s Family To Meet With Trump And Introduce Bill To Protect Military Personnel Reporting Sexual Harassment

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