US Vietnam Veterans Threatened with Deportation

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In 2012, Valente Valenzuela and his younger brother Manuel will find out whether they will be deported from the United States.  Valente, sixty-two years, and Manuel, fifty-eight, were born in Mexico, but moved to the United States in 1955, and have lived here since.  Their mother was a U.S. citizen, and their father became a naturalized citizen.

According to the Valenzuela’s’ attorney, the brothers, who are legal permanent residents, should have been granted citizenship upon moving to the U.S. as children, but were not.  Each brother served in Vietnam:  Valente is a decorated U.S. Army veteran, injured in combat and awarded a bronze star for his bravery, and Manuel is a former Marine.  Both suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, which they say contributed to their respective run-ins with the law-Valente was involved in a misdemeanor domestic violence dispute eleven years ago, and Manuel was charged with misdemeanor resisting arrest twenty-five years ago.

Yet, despite having served their country and paid their dues, the brothers received letters from the Department of Homeland Security (Manuel in 2005 and Valente in 2009) notifying them that they will face deportation hearings.  If deported, the Valenzuela’s will lose their veterans’ benefits, including counseling for their PTSD, and will be forced to leave the country they fought for and have called home for the last fifty –six years.

Obama administration removed more people during each of the last two years than in any year in U.S. history.  (ICE) Immigration And Customs Enforcement Is focusing its efforts on dangerous, violent criminals, both anecdotal and statistical evidence prove otherwise.  In October 2010 ICE released their statistics and removed 392,862 immigrants and more than have were no-criminals.  Since 1892 the total numbers of removals and returns exceeds 52 million.  It is overwhelmingly targeted Mexicans.  More than ½ of these deportations have taken over the last 20 years.

Title:  US veterans Valenzuela brothers facing deportation to meet with president Obama
Source: Dissent Magazine, issued spring, April 1, 2011,  page 64-68
Author: Adam Goodman


Faculty Evaluator: Sheila Katz, Ph.D., Department of Sociology, Sonoma State University
Student Researcher: Ron Tureck, Sonoma State University