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If You Never Served Don’t Talk to Me About Deporting DACA Veterans

Gender neutral boot camp

DACA of course is the Obama era rule that deferred prosecuting illegal immigrants who crossed when they were children but are now adults. Many went to American schools their entire lives and in fact a decent number of them only speak English or perhaps a poor version of Spanish as they picked it up when their parents were yelling at them in their natural language. Because every bi-lingual person knows true anger can only be expressed in your native tongue. For this group of young adults, Pablo’s only crime was to follow papa across the river. Yes, I’m generalizing and you might get offended by the stereotypes but stick with the message. For many of these young men and women in recent years have in fact answered the only nation they have ever known call to serve. Meanwhile, many natural born citizens whose only patriotic act was to pop out of their momma’s red, white and blue hoo-ha are advocating for these military service members and veterans to answer for their crimes and be deported. Well, I’m not having it. It’s one thing to ask a grown adult to answer for their choice to immigrate, as they knew the risk. It’s entirely another thing to ask one of your United States Marines to go home to a country where they don’t speak the language because they had the audacity to cross the river in their mother’s arms swaddled in a newborn blanket. If you served, I’d love to hear your opinion. If you didn’t and still want to deport a veteran then Bea Arthur’s panties wishes you a good day sir.

The Sins of the Father

The Bible bears a reference to the sins of the father being visited upon multiple generations. Despite being a follower of Christ, I must admit I don’t fully understand that. However, I’m pretty sure it didn’t mean prosecuting a child for a crime their parents made them commit. Let’s take the example of child prostitution. It’s a horrible crime that I can tell you after working over 13 years in the child welfare arena is tragically more common than you think. Some would argue that when a 13-year-old girl is arrested for prostitution, she is but a delinquent youth in need of correction. Never mind the parents who are sometimes the pimp or the pimp that coerces them, prostitution is illegal and “the law is the law”, right?

But that’s not even what I am talking about here. Now imagine said child who somehow grew up well and got a high school diploma then joined the military. She returns home from Iraq only to be told that she is being arrested for crimes committed when she was 13. Sure her parents forced her to do it, but “the law is the law.” Aha, you say, but she was coerced. True, but I hardly see papa telling Pablo to get on his shoulders so he can cross the river, any less form of coercion. I can’t remember how old I was before someone explained  immigration law to me. Can you?

Chattanooga Marines

For the most part, we would not enforce the full weight of the law on a child who broke the law at their parent’s behest at the time much less 15 or 20 years later. Sure these children could as adults recognize their horrible crime and voluntarily submit themselves to the law to be deported. I had a friend say as much because “the law is the law” and they must be held to account. I think asked him, if he found out his parents brought him here when he was 6 months old illegally from Djibouti if he would now do the same. Leave his friends, job, everything he has ever known and move for years to a country where he knows no one and speaks not the language to make himself right with the law. Crickets…crickets…crickets… that was the end of the conversation.

Military Service and the Law

Serving in the Marine Corps, I can tell you that Latinos and the Marine Corps go together like white rice on a burrito. I’d say Caucasians make up the bulk due to national proportions, but Latinos are well represented. If I had a dollar for every Garcia I met in the Marine Corps, I’d be a rich man. Latinos in my opinion have a rich heritage of service and that was certainly reflected in their military service. I have no idea the immigration status of each Garcia, but if I had the ability and you wanted to deport one of my Garcia’s because he followed daddy across the river when he was 5 you are going to have to go through me first. Go back to playing Xbox child, myself and DACA immigrants will protect you while you do.

Far too many, far too many, far too many American citizens failed to answer their nation’s call to military service over 16 years of war. So don’t talk to me about deporting those who lived here in some cases longer than you who did. In fact, I’d offer a straight up trade them for you, if you pushed the issue. Putting America first is not in-congruent with supporting DACA veterans. I’d submit to you, that having more of such men and women in this country is in fact putting America first. In my opinion, deporting the person of character willing to serve, only benefits the nation to which we send them.

DACA Veterans

The truth is that the application of law has always allowed for lawful discretion. Don’t quote “the law is the law” if you have ever been relieved that a cop let you off with a warning when caught speeding. Don’t quote “the law is the law” if you were ever caught for underage drinking and sent home instead of juvie. Don’t quote “the law is the law” if you cried foul when Marine Andrew Tahmooresi was arrested and sent to a Mexican jail because he inadvertently made a wrong turn and attempted to cross the Mexican border with a gun in his car. The truth is, that unless you are an authoritarian Judge Dredd we all hope and pray for a human application of the law. To prosecute and deport DACA veterans is a tragedy. If you served let’s chat about it If you watched the GWOT wars on YouTube, I don’t want to hear it.

In Conclusion

Prosecuting these veterans who served and fought for America is a choice.  We don’t answer to blinky the law enforcement robot. Authoritarian application of the law would take everyone with a joint in their house right now, regardless of state law, and prosecute them. Authoritarian application of the law would mean every car that speeds should be automatically tracked and fined. We have the technology and the law is the law right? The moment we take the human element out of the law is the moment I know any semblance of libertarian thought is gone. 

If one can in any case concede that lawful discretion exists, then one has the opportunity to examine DACA veterans. Men and women whose only crime was to not roll out of their momma’s arms and try to swim back to Mexico as a toddler. Men and women whose only crime was to get a high school diploma and perhaps go to college. That’s right folks, gang banging DACA members can and are still deported. But I’m specifically talking about men and women who chose to serve their nation, the only one they have ever known, while you may have sat home and watched it on CNN. Listen here friends, if you want to make America great again so long as you can do so from your mother’s basement then we have a quarrel here. 

DACA vets

We as veterans know exactly what it means to earn the title of United States Marine and other.  We as veterans know exactly what it means to hear the snap and crack of a bullet passing overhead and what we risked. I’ll not look any man who did the same in the eye and tell him he has to leave the nation for which he just fought. Certainly not because Pablo Garcia followed daddy across the river when he was 5. Fellow veterans, if you want to chat about deporting those with whom we served and fought, feel free. Everyone else can choke on Bea Arthur’s panties. Not the clean ones, but the laundry basket.

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Jeff Edwards

11 Comments

  1. I thought they received citizenship as a result of their service ?

    • Nope. They have to apply for citizenship, and depending on the program they enlist under they may not be eligible to apply.

    • actually they can apply its not automatic. as long as they do not have a morality waiver or a drug waiver they can apply. Does not mean they will get it but they can apply. In my experience those who have a clean record and diligently apply themselves to getting it generally speaking get it in less than one four year tour.

  2. There is a process for citizenship. Anyone can apply and go through it. If America doesn’t like the laws then elect someone who will change it. Mendevil and my other Garcia Marines might be deported over my dead body. Last nite there is no telling how many crossed with their parents . That is illegal. I helped deport a German a few years ago whose only crime was not getting his grad degree before his visa expired. I also know there whereabouts of a Central American who hacked his wife to death there but I can’t get deported. The system is flawed and broken, no doubt. So, either we enforce the laws we have or abandon them altogether. How many of the wrong sort enter our country illegally? And the government will be blamed for not doing enough when we have another terrorist attack. Latinos are the flavor of the week right now. It will get fixed and we will be on to the next topic. Notice we aren’t focusing on Muslims very much? Now there is a true threat to our country. I will be very surprised if someone who served in the military is deported. Whoever decides to make this their home should do so in a legal manor. Don’t start a new life in this country by committing a felony. If you want the American dream the all are welcome, as always .

  3. There was a time and there were countries where the act of serving in the military was a requirement for full citizenship. If you have stepped up and made the sacrifice to serve, citizenship should be a foregone conclusion. “I care not where you are from but if you stand, should to should with me in the face of any threat, we are forever linked”.

  4. Let’s not confuse Latinos/Hispanics, non-citizens, illegal immigrants, people affected by DACA, and those serving under MAVNI.

    Yes, lots of us Latinos/Hispanics serve in the military. Some served with great distinction like Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez. And yes, many people who are not US-citizens serve in the US military; however, they have to be legal residents or they are from countries with which we have special agreements. I served with quite a few people who were not citizens. Those who are here legally and serve do get an expedited path to citizenship.

    Federal law prohibits people here illegally from serving in the US military, with very few exceptions. For those here illegally, registering under DACA is not one of those exceptions. Registering under DACA does not make it so an illegal can serve in the US military. There is NO path to citizenship under DACA.

    The exception to the prohibition against illegals serving is a program called MAVNI (Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest). MAVNI allows certain people who are not legal residents or not citizens IF the military deems these people to have certain skills or knowledge that the military needs. Those skills may include languages; however, no Spanish language is on the list of eligible language. Programs like MAVNI can normally only be implemented in times of conflict or when that special authority is granted by Congress. Unlike DACA, MAVNI does provide a path to citizenship.

    Can a person be registered under DACA and qualify to serve under MAVNI? Yes, but those people would be quite rare.

    Most people, and news stories, confuse DACA and MAVNI. They are not the same thing.

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