José López Zamorano | La Red Hispana 
Photo Credit: La Red Hispana

The dictionary literally defines a “second chance” as an act of generosity: whoever gives it, extends a helping hand to someone who has failed in the first instance and offers them the hope of succeeding in a new attempt.

The definition fits perfectly with President Joe Biden’s new policy of offering support to foreign migrant veterans, who have served in the United States armed forces and who have been unjustly deported from the United States.

Under the initiative announced in the patriotic round about the Independence Day celebrations, the departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Veterans Affairs (VA) will develop a rigorous and systematic approach to review the deportations of hundreds of migrants who put their lives in the service of the United States.

President Biden’s administration pledged to create a resource center to assist these veterans and their immediate families with all matters related to immigration, remove barriers to naturalization for those who are eligible, review deportation policies and practices and to prevent future unjust deportations of current and former members of the foreign armed forces, as well as their families.

Hundreds of those war veterans are Mexican and close to us. Many live in shelters in border areas like Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez. Some had no choice but to leave their families in the United States and return to an emotionally distant country. They have survived thanks to the support of local organizations and now, from this moment on, the country that served with honor in multiple military conflicts.

The United States began deporting foreign veterans in 1996. The law states that lawful permanent residents can be deported if they commit serious crimes. There is no special distinction whether or not they have served in the armed forces. While the law also opens the door to expedited naturalization for foreign-born U.S. soldiers, that roadmap was not a priority during the Trump era.

Those deported war veterans who are beneficiaries of the new Biden administration policy will be entitled to medical coverage, starting with vaccination against COVID, as well as benefits granted to other veterans. The support will be extended to their immediate families.

“We had already taken a long time to establish that no soldier who served this country with fidelity and loyalty should be subjected to the shame of being deported. Service in uniform should have earned them citizenship for life!”, reacted the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).

In the veteran’s community the news was greeted with cautious optimism, with a mixture of hope and skepticism. After all, many of them were expelled from a country for which they put their lives at risk. It is now up to the federal government to expeditiously and transparently implement a fair and generous policy that makes us all proud.

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