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Changing deportation laws put veterans in a bind

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Whenever someone enlists to serve in the military, his or her immigration status may impact what can happen afterward. Typically, if someone serves and is categorized as a legal resident, he or she may not expect that deportation can occur. However, in 1996, it became easier to deport people who are in Maryland or other states legally even if they honorably served in the United States military.

One military vet has found himself deported to Jamaica just before turning 41 years old. The man was last in his home country when he was 17. He served in the Navy during the Gulf War.

Not long after his military service, the man found himself in trouble with the law. He was caught with a box of marijuana that he was delivering and he contends that he did not know what was in the box when he was surrounded by authorities. He pleaded guilty and served some time in prison; however, when released, he was able to stay in the country. Once he applied to be a citizen, the man's criminal record led to the deportation process.

This case highlights the fact that 30,000 former service members have been deported from the United States. In Maryland, if anyone who has served in the military is unsure of his or her chances of getting deported, or if there may be legal reasons to fear deportation, having up-to-date information is vital. It may help to understand which criminal charges or convictions can be grounds for deportation and which may not.

Source: cnn.com, "Deported veterans ask Obama for relief", Leigh Ann Caldwell, May 19, 2014

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