Laurie Roberts, in a column for the Arizona Republic, details the secret deportation of Iraq combat veteran Jose Segovia Benitez calling it a disgrace and a “shameful way to say ‘thank you for your service.’” In the latest development for the Marine veteran, who was held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in 2018 and almost deported while he was waiting for an appeal, Segovia’s deportation occurred in the dead of night, unbeknownst to his lawyers.
Spanish language coverage is also highlighting this storyline revealing the NBC interview with Segovia after his deportation and his emotional trauma from the incident. La Opinión uplifted this interview where Segovia explains, “I love America. I would fight for it again. I won’t turn my back on it. I really need it not to have its back turned to me…I was messed up in the head. I felt I should have died in Iraq and that guilty feeling that I’m not supposed to be here…I thought I was American from the heart and I still feel that I am an American. [Being a Marine was] the best decision I made still to this day no matter what the outcome.”
This Spanish and English coverage comes ahead of Tuesday’s House Judiciary’s Immigration Subcommittee Hearing on Immigration Policies on Service Member and Veterans, which will examine increasing immigration and naturalization obstacles faced by veterans, active duty service members, and their families under the Trump administration.
Below is an excerpt from Laurie Robert’s piece in the Arizona Republic and the full article can be found here:
A Marine combat veteran, one who served two tours in Iraq where he was seriously injured, has received the thanks of a grateful nation.
Late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning, he was kicked out of the country, deported from Arizona to El Salvador where his life may be in danger given his U.S. military service.
“They snuck him out in the middle of the night,” Texas attorney Tom Sanchez told the Orange County Register.
Take a good look in the mirror today, America. Tell me, what do you see?
…”ICE kept his deportation a secret,” Petty told the Phoenix New Times. “They kept it a secret from him, me, his other attorney, and they kept it a secret from his mother.”
For good reason. Because it is disgraceful.
…But is it moral?
Morality would require a careful consideration of not just his criminal offenses but his military service and his life after that service. Morality would require an acknowledgement that his troubles didn’t begin until after his honorable discharge from the Marines. An acknowledgment of the well-known lack of support and treatment for combat veterans who desperately need help. Morality would have required a holdup, even if only for a few days, to see whether a pardon is warranted.
Certainly, Segovia is responsible for his crimes. But he already paid for them in prison.
Now, he’s paying again, by being secretly swept from the only country he has ever known before his lawyers could intervene.
For further information on naturalization and immigration issues facing veterans and active duty military, see today’s DHS Watch piece, “Patriotic Immigrants Who Have Served America: Veterans and Active Duty Service Members, and Their Families, Face Increasing Immigration and Naturalization Obstacles Under Trump Administration,” here.