Mark Takano and Juan Vargas Push ICE on Deported Veterans
The federal government does not know precisely how many non-citizen veterans it has deported over the last five years. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) on Thursday released a report which found that ICE not only failed to consistently adhere to its own policies related to cases of veterans who could be deported, but the agency also doesn’t have a full accounting of how many veterans were deported between 2013 to 2018. Congressman Mark Takano (D-CA), Chair of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and Juan Vargas (D-CA) want answers. The pair sent a letter to Acting ICE Director Mark Morgan calling on the agency to abide by a directive it adopted in 2015 which established procedures that required the agency to elevate cases involving veterans or other potential U.S. citizens to ICE headquarters. The members wrote that elevating a case would allow for adequate review of a potentially removable veteran before removal proceedings have begun. “The need to elevate these cases is imperative, with consequences stretching far and wide. Failure to raise these cases to headquarters only results in more removal order proceedings for individuals whom have bravely served our nation,” the lawmakers wrote. The GAO’s analysis not only determined ICE did not elevate these cases but also found that personnel was wholly unaware the policy even existed. “Absent proper enforcement protocol, veterans whom have dutifully served our country are being deported. This systematic failure to our veterans must be addressed.” Read the letter here.