Things That Matter

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

Things That Matter

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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With Immigration Fees Set To Increase, Advocacy Groups Are Hosting “Citizenship Weeks” To Help People Get Their Documents In On Time

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With Immigration Fees Set To Increase, Advocacy Groups Are Hosting “Citizenship Weeks” To Help People Get Their Documents In On Time

Damen Wood / Getty Images

Becoming a U.S. resident or citizen has never been an easy process. The country’s immigration system is a convoluted mess that sharply leans in favor of high-wealth individuals and under the Trump administration that is becoming more apparent than ever.

But 2020 has been an especially challenging year for immigrants seeking to complete their citizenship process.

Although it’s common for interest in naturalization to spike in the months leading up to presidential elections, the Coronavirus pandemic forced the citizenship process to a grinding halt in March. The outbreak shut offices of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) all across the country. And although many of these offices reopened in July, there is a widening backlog of applications.

Meanwhile, on October 2, looming fee increases could leave applications and citizenship out of reach for tens of thousands of immigrants, as the process becomes significantly more costly.

Many migrant advocacy groups are hosting events meant to help immigrants complete their applications before prices are set to rise.

In South Florida, the Office of New Americans (ONA) — a public-private partnership between Miami-Dade County and non-profit legal service providers — launched its second Miami Citizenship Week on Sept. 11. This 10-day event is designed to help immigrants with free legal support so participants can beat the October 2 deadline.

In addition, the event will host a mix of celebrations meant to highlight the social and economic contributions of South Florida’s large immigrant communities.

“I think in Miami we talk about how we are diverse and how we are adjacent to Latin America, but we never take a moment to celebrate immigrants and the amazing work that they do whether it’s the nurses in our hospitals, the drivers that drive our buses, small business owners,” said Krystina François, ONA’s executive director. “We need to reclaim the narrative around immigrants and around our communities because it’s what makes us great.”

However, thanks to Covid-19 restrictions, the events will all be hosted online.

Much like any other event, Covid-19 has greatly impacted this year’s “Citizenship Week.” Therefore, the event will be hosted virtually. That includes the Mega Citizenship Clinic, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 16-20. At the event, pro-bono lawyers from the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Americans for Immigrant Justice and other groups will connect with attendees one-on-one on Zoom and walk them through the process of filling out the 20-page citizenship application form. 

The clinic is open to immigrants eligible to become naturalized citizens, meaning permanent residents who have had a green card for at least five years.

Cities like Dallas are also getting in on similar events, meant to welcome new residents and citizens into the city.

Dallas’ Office of Welcoming Communities and Immigrant Affairs is hosting a series of virtual events from Sept. 12 to Sept. 20 in honor of Welcoming Week. The virtual events aim to promote Dallas’ diverse communities and to unite all residents, including immigrants and refugees.

According to the City of Dallas, this year’s theme is Creating Home Together, and it emphasizes the importance of coming together as a community to build a more inclusive city for everyone.

Participants will be able to learn about the voting process and what will be on the next ballot during the “Vontando Por Mi Familia: Enterate para que vas a votar” event. The event, hosted in partnership with Mi Familia, will be presented in Spanish.

A Council Member, Jaime Resendez, will host a virtual program on Tuesday at 11 a.m. that celebrates Latinx art and culture. The event will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Mayor Eric Johnson will read the Welcoming Week Proclamation, and the event will feature art exhibitions and performances showcasing the talents of performers and artists across Dallas.

Attendees will also have a chance to learn more about the availability of DACA and a citizenship workshop will take place where articipants will learn how to complete their N-400 application for citizenship. Volunteer immigration attorneys and accredited representatives from the Department of Justice will be there for assistance.

The events come as fees for several immigration proceedings are set to rise by dramatic amounts come October 1.

Starting on October 2, the financial barrier will grow even taller for many immigrants as fees are set to increase. The fee to apply for U.S. citizenship will increase from $640 to $1,160 if filed online, or $ 1,170 in paper filing, a more than 80% increase in cost. 

“In the middle of an economic downturn, an increase of $520 is a really big amount,” François told the Miami-Herald.

Aside from the fee increase, many non-citizen immigrants never truly felt the need to become citizens. That was until the Coronavirus pandemic hit and had many questioning their status in the country.

“There are people who up until this COVID crisis, their status as a permanent resident didn’t impact their day-to-day life … but then the pandemic has given them another reason of why it’s important to take that extra step and become a citizen, because of the additional rights and protections that are afforded to you, but also to just have a sense of security and stability in a crisis.”

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