Things That Matter

He Risked His Life Twice As A Marine Fighting In Iraq And Now He Could Be Deported Back To El Salvador

Across the U.S. border, there’s an organization called Deported Veterans Support House that helps to transition servicemen and women that were in the U.S. military but ended up being deported because of their denied citizenship. It’s bizarre and perplexing to think about how many people sign up to serve and protect the rights of American citizens, in order to become citizens themselves only to be rejected. That’s the infuriating situation that many people have found themselves in due to logistical matters instilled by the U.S. government. 

A 38-year-old Marine veteran who served two tours in Iraq is now facing deportation to El Salvador because of crimes he committed after his time in the service. 

It’s common knowledge that some veterans face post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after they wrap up their tours overseas. And in many instances, for a variety of reasons, veterans can’t get the mental help they deserve. It is that chain of events that may lead Jose Segovia Benitez’s to be deported back to El Salvador — a country he hasn’t lived in since he was 3-years-old. Segovia Benitez was an undocumented immigrant when he went to serve in Iraq during 1999-2004. 

Many undocumented immigrants enlist to join the army in order to become citizens. The government has made that promise to people as a path to citizenship. What they don’t tell you is that enrolling in the U.S. military doesn’t automatically make you a citizen. There’s still a ton of paperwork to fill out, and it has to be done by the person who is seeking citizenship. Deported veterans have complained that they didn’t realize they had to be the ones to fill out the paperwork

There are also strict regulations put upon those service members. For example, if you’re seeking to be a U.S. citizen through the military, you must have a clean record after you serve. 

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If a veteran gets into any kind of trouble with the law, that is an automatic strike against them, and now their citizenship is in jeopardy. That’s the case with deported veterans, including Segovia Benitez.

The Hill reports that Segovia Benitez began to have minor offenses after he was honorably discharged from the military in 2004. A clear sign of PTSD, which went untreated. NBC News also reports that he suffered a brain injury while serving, and despite that, he was awarded several medals for his service. 

“If he would have had the resources to have legal representation back then, he would not be facing this right now,” Carlos Luna, president of Green Card Veterans, told NBC News. Luna is also helping Segovia Benitez’s case. “Even further, if he would have had the medical resources available that he needed, then he may not have ever ended up in a courtroom.”

Last year, a judge ordered his deportation, but lawyers for Segovia Benitez have spent a year appealing that decision. Last week, he was put on a plane to El Salvador and was then ordered to be taken off that flight. 

His supporters continue to fight for Segovia Benitez to remain in the country. His mother sent a plea to Gov. Gavin Newsom and said, “please help us. This is the country he belongs in, the country he fought for,” she said, according to NBC News. 

Under President Donald Trump, we’ve seen other similar cases in which undocumented veterans were deported. 

Credit: Unsplash

Miguel Perez Jr., who served two tours in Afganistan, was deported to Mexico in the middle of the night after living in the U.S. for 30 years. “I’m not leaving,” Perez Jr. said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune in April. “They’re taking me.” He added, “Not for 30 seconds was I illegal in this country. I went to war for this country out of love for this country. I was given birth in Mexico and life in the U.S.”

Last year, Enrique Salas, who also served in the military for several years and was deported because of his drug abuse, was only able to return to the U.S. after he was dead

Salas was en route back to the U.S. because his sister said he was in desperate need of medical help. However, he never made it back. He died in the ambulance. The government did give him a proper military burial. 

Before his death, Salas made a statement to an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) report titled “Discharged, then Discarded: How U.S. veterans are banished by the country they swore to protect.” He said, “My parents gave two of their children to the Marine Corps, and now they’ve lost both of us.”

There seems little hope for Segovia Benitez, but his supporters are taking whatever faith is left. A Department of Homeland Security told The Hill that Segovia-Benitez is currently detained in an ICE detention center “pending removal.”

According to the Committee on Deported Veterans, there are an estimated 1,500 veterans that have been deported.

READ: After Four Years Fighting In The Marines, This Deported Veteran Came Back To The US In A Casket

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10-Year-Old Boy Found Crying Alone Near Border Had Been Deported And Kidnapped With His Mom

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10-Year-Old Boy Found Crying Alone Near Border Had Been Deported And Kidnapped With His Mom

Anyone who has watched this video of a 10-year-old boy asking a Border Patrol officer for help through tears, can admit just how heartbreaking it is. The boy says he was left alone while traveling with a group across the border when they abandoned him.

But now his family is speaking out and sharing the backstory to the emotional video that further highlights just how urgently the crisis at the border needs to be addressed.

Video of a 10-year-old boy wandering near the border quickly went viral for how heartbreaking it was.

A heartbreaking video shared last week by Customs and Border Protection of an unnamed 10-year-old boy found wandering alone in Texas underscored how desperate the situation is on the southern border. The video showed a young Nicaraguan boy found on the side of a dirt road by an off-duty Border Patrol agent after wandering alone for four hours in the desert.

People reports that U.S. Customs and Border Protection released footage of the incident, which happened on April 1 by a Rio Grande border patrol agent. The boy explains to the officer that he woke up and discovered that his group had left him behind. “I came looking because I didn’t know where to go, and they can also rob or kidnap me or something,” he told the officer. 

In a statement to the publication, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the agent “transported the child to a Border Patrol facility where he was fed and medically screened.”

But now we’re getting a better understanding of what led to this heartbreaking video.

Now, the boy’s family have described his plight to the Washington Post. Little 10-year-old Wilton Obregon and his mom crossed the border into Texas last month but were expelled under Title 42, a policy that releases migrants back to Mexico without letting them seek asylum.

Hours after they were sent back, they were kidnapped, according to Wilton’s Miami-based uncle, Misael Obregon. The kidnappers called him and demanded a $10,000 ransom but Misael could only pay $5,000 so the kidnappers only released Wilton. They dumped Wilton back at the border. Obregon said his sister is still in custody of the kidnappers. “Now I’m worried that she’s going to die,” he said.

In fact, the boys mom called Misael Obregon on Friday morning, crying after seeing the video of her son crying at the border.

The family’s plight highlights the need for reforms to Title 42.

During the campaign, President Biden complained about the humanitarian consequences of the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, which forced asylum seekers to wait for the their court hearings in Mexico. Many were forced to wait in dangerous refugee camps along the border that subjected them to human trafficking, violence, and sexual assault.

Under Title 42, though, which began under President Donald Trump and continues under Biden, asylum seekers are again in the same desperate situation. It’s unclear how many of them have been kidnapped.

“The Biden administration is winding down one of the Trump administration’s most notorious policies but at the same time it is expelling other asylum seekers back to the very same dangers, attacks and kidnappings through its continued use of the Trump administration’s Title 42 policy to evade U.S. refugee law,” Eleanor Acer, senior director of refugee protection at Human Rights First, said in a statement.

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ICE Has Gone Rogue As It Continues With Deportations Despite Several Policy Changes

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ICE Has Gone Rogue As It Continues With Deportations Despite Several Policy Changes

Long before taking office, President Biden vowed to undo many of the Trump administration’s most cruel and inhumane immigration policies within days of taking office. But despite several executive orders, Biden’s policies have met several roadblocks and swift changes in immigration policy have yet to arrive.

One major roadblock to ending deportations has been a federal judge that placed a hold on a Biden’s executive order and the other has been a “rogue agency” that’s continued several of Trump’s immigration policies.

Migrant rights advocates are calling ICE a “rogue agency” as it faces new allegations of abuse.

Although President Biden has outlined his immigration policy and installed his new head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – which oversees ICE – the White House still does not have full control of ICE, which faces multiple allegations of human rights abuses and allegations that it has disproportionately targeted Black migrants.

The agency also continues to deport immigrants who don’t fit the categories approved for deportation by DHS – even those who had been taken off deportation flights just hours before.

Many deportees are claiming that ICE has stepped up its torture of detainees.

Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Several migrant rights groups – Freedom for Immigrants, Al Otro Lado and Advocates for Immigrants Rights – published affidavits from Cameroonian asylum seekers who they said were tortured by being forced to approve their own deportations. The asylum seekers described being forced to the floor and having their fingers inked and pressed on to deportation documents they had refused to sign.

According to The Guardian, one Cameroonian asylum seeker described being brought into a room with darkened windows where he was forced by agents to put his fingerprint on a document in lieu of a signature, waiving his rights to further legal process before deportation.

“I tried to stand up because of the force that they were using on me, and they tripped me,” HT said. “I fell on the floor; I kept my hands under my body. I held my hands tight at waist level so they could not have them. Five of the Ice officers and one of the officers in green … joined them. They pressed me down and said that I needed to give them my finger for the fingerprint.”

One man was put on a flight to Haiti even though he’s not Haitian and had never been to that country.

And despite new directives from DHS and the Biden administration, ICE continues to carry out deportation flights containing people who fit none of the current criteria for deportation.

Just last week, Paul Pierrilus, a 40-year-old financial consultant from New York, who had never been to Haiti and is not a Haitian citizen, was taken off a deportation flight at the last moment after the intervention of his local congressman, Mondaire Jones. But just days later, ICE put him on another plane and sent him to Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Jones told the Guardian: “Ice is a rogue agency that must be brought to heel. There is no world in which an agency under the control of the leader of the executive branch should continue to deport people after the president of the United States signed an executive order halting deportations for 100 days.”

However, the Biden administration has also moved forward on its own with many deportations.

It’s true that a federal judge ordered the Biden administration not to enforce a 100-day pause on deportations, but the ruling did not require the government to schedule them. However, the administration has moved forward on deportations for hundreds of immigrants within the past two weeks.

It’s unclear how many of those people are considered national security or public safety threats or had recently crossed the border illegally, the priority under new guidance that DHS issued to enforcement agencies.

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