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Congressman Seeks Second Chance for Vets Facing Deportation

deported vets

By Debbie Gregory.

One path to U.S. citizenship is through military service. In fact, joining the U.S. military has always been one of the fastest ways to become a U.S. citizen. The American Civil Liberties Union reported last year that many servicemembers don’t realize their naturalization is not automatic. And unfortunately, veterans who get in trouble prior to completing the process can be deported.

Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), who serves on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is seeking a second chance for veterans who were convicted of crimes and face the possibility of deportation.

Takano introduced legislation that would have the Department of Homeland Security consider a veteran’s moral character and honorable service above a criminal conviction when reviewing their application for citizenship.

The Second Chance for Service Act provides the Department of Homeland Security with flexibility to approve a veteran’s naturalization application despite criminal convictions in their record. It excludes veterans convicted of aggravated felonies, such as murder, rape, sexual abuse of a minor, child pornography, human trafficking and treason.

The bill, the “Second Chance for Service Act,” would only apply to honorably discharged veterans.

Veteran and immigration advocates have confirmed more than 3,000 veteran deportation cases.

A 2016 ACLU report, “Discharged, Then Discarded,” found that deported veterans were in the U.S. legally, but had sustained physical wounds and emotional trauma in conflicts as far back as the war in Vietnam. Deportation is a lifetime punishment that never would have happened if the government had ensured their right to be naturalized.

“America is a country that believes in second chances, and few deserve a second chance as much as these veterans,” Takano said on his website. “Treating people who risked their lives for freedom so callously violates the respect and gratitude we owe to all who have served.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Veteran Education Disrupted by ITT Closure

itt

By Debbie Gregory.

Valuable veteran education benefits could be affected for as many as 7,000 veteran students using their GI Bill benefits at ITT Technical Institute.

The company has shut its doors at all 137 locations over 38 states. ITT places blame for the closure on the U.S. Department of Education, which has stepped up oversight of for-profit colleges, and imposed tough financial sanctions against ITT over recruitment and financial aid practices

The Department of Education, which has online information and webinar Q&A sessions through September 22nd, banned the school from enrolling new students who used federal financial aid.

ITT’s career-focused degree programs in specialties mainly centered on technical fields, such as electronics technology, drafting, auto mechanics, nursing, criminal justice and information technology. Their personal, direct testimony ads from past and present students were a staple on television.

“The sudden shuttering of ITT Tech will hurt thousands of veterans who enrolled in search of a promising career but will receive an uncertain future instead,” said Rep. Mark Takano, (D-CA) a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

Takano said student veterans often are targets of aggressive and even deceptive recruiting practices, noting that Corinthian Colleges and ITT Tech together received a total of $1 billion in GI Bill money between 2009 and 2015. Corinthian Colleges Inc. closed the doors on its remaining campuses following government allegations of falsified job placement rates.

Therefore, in order to make the most of your military education benefits, it is imperative that you do your homework (so to speak) before choosing a college, university or technical school. You may want to use The Department of Education’s College Scorecard to find the program that’s right for you.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.