I Served My Country. Then It Kicked Me Out.
April 18, 2014 11:50 AM   Subscribe

I was a veteran, a father and husband and a small-business owner. Then I was deported.
posted by pravit (84 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is horrifying.

(Also I didn't know that you didn't need to be an American citizen to enlist in the army.)
posted by divabat at 11:57 AM on April 18, 2014


My god that is awful.
posted by jbickers at 12:09 PM on April 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


I would think serving in a country's armed forces would be automatic citizenship in that country, with all the rights that entails, but I guess I'm just a pinko commie.

There are people who will read this and say "he got what he deserved". Those people are assholes.

Also, the bed quota for immigration arrests? That is fucked-up, dystopian police-state bullshit, right there.
posted by maxwelton at 12:10 PM on April 18, 2014 [48 favorites]


Man, that sucks. My country can go to hell.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 12:10 PM on April 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


I would think serving in a country's armed forces would be automatic citizenship in that country, with all the rights that entails, but I guess I'm just a pinko commie.

That was a common theme in Heinlein's books, so.... not so much a commie as a libertarian stooge ?
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:16 PM on April 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Immigration detention bed quota? No one runs a racket like good ol' Uncle Sam.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:17 PM on April 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


We had a local case that was very similar to this one.

Alexander Timofeev moved to the US at age 14 and smoked pot as a teenager; he cleaned up his life and was 35 when this article was written. He faced deportation back to Russia, where he had no family or friends and could barely speak the language. He has two children and had been married to a citizen; he's engaged to a citizen right now (and his ex-wife wrote repeatedly in his support). He couldn't work while this case was in process.

Update from January, in which a university expert talks about how his conviction was "classic teenage behavior" due to the stages of brain development, and how he is clearly not a risk to society now.

Some immigrants get a reprieve from county processors... but not Alex Timofeev.

Finally, FINALLY, his convictions were vacated and charges dropped after 16 months of worry.
posted by Madamina at 12:18 PM on April 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


(Also I didn't know that you didn't need to be an American citizen to enlist in the army.)

Between 2 and 4 percent of the U.S. armed forces at any given moment are not U.S. citizens. Of the dozen or so units I was in on active duty, all but one had non-citizens in it, and that one was at a U.S. Embassy where everyone had to have a security clearance level that precluded non-citizens.

I would think serving in a country's armed forces would be automatic citizenship in that country, with all the rights that entails, but I guess I'm just a pinko commie.

It greatly increases one's chances and decreases the time one has to wait, from five years to three (and you can't enlist for less than three years anyway). However, not to be an asshole, one must apply for it.
posted by Etrigan at 12:20 PM on April 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


Etrigan- subject of OP's article did apply, but was denied based on prior (bullshit IMO) drug conviction.
posted by Wretch729 at 12:22 PM on April 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


"I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever." -- Thomas Jefferson.
posted by gauche at 12:22 PM on April 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


My sympathy hit a fairly low ebb when I found out that the crime for which he was deported was receiving and attempting to deliver what, from the description of size he gives, was probably several kilos of pot at least -- whether or not you feel it should be illegal, that is currently a pretty major deal. It's understandable that, as unfortunate as his personal circumstances might be, that's going to create major problems for someone seeking citizenship.

But the two years in pre-detention imprisonment, the complete incompetence of the system (which seems not to have even known about his crime until he brought it up), and other elements of the system described in the article just make me despair. Either the system is deliberately designed to be idiotic and cruel or that's the best we've been able to manage. Neither option reflects well on our country.
posted by Nerd of the North at 12:23 PM on April 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


I know a lot more about American immigration law now. No one—not the judge, nor the lawyer I’d hired—told me when I pleaded guilty to the drug charge that I was giving up my right to be a legal permanent resident of the United States.

For all the things going wrong in the world, this is one thing we've started to get right recently. As of 2010, criminal defense attorneys are required to notify their clients of the potential collateral immigration consequences of a conviction or guilty plea.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:24 PM on April 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


Etrigan- subject of OP's article did apply, but was denied based on prior (bullshit IMO) drug conviction.

Yes, but he didn't apply while in the Navy, which would have prevented all this.
posted by Etrigan at 12:25 PM on April 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


I took a short Hungarian course in college from a prof who basically sat around talking about his life in the old days. He had escaped Communist Hungary in 1957 or so by enlisting in the U.S. Army. Of course, he couldn't speak German OR English. So he spent most of his time strutting happily around postwar Berlin in his American uniform with a little card in his pocket that said, "Hi, my name is András and yes I'm a real American soldier, but no, I can't speak English or German. Sorry!"

That class was something else. We learned how to say "beer" and "I am an export salesman" which seemed weird until my classmate returned from her semester abroad and revealed that, yes, her host sister had in fact been an export salesman. Külkereskedő vagy!
posted by Madamina at 12:27 PM on April 18, 2014 [12 favorites]


Etrigan- subject of OP's article did apply, but was denied based on prior (bullshit IMO) drug conviction.

Yes, but he didn't apply while in the Navy, which would have prevented all this.


Sorry, meant to add: Not that his situation isn't ridiculous and shouldn't be happening to him; I'm just saying that the "pinko commie" version of things does more or less exist, but you can't let yourself fell through the cracks, either.
posted by Etrigan at 12:28 PM on April 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


I am friends\acquaintances with 14 people who currently have Green Cards and\or attained citizenship after getting a Green Card

5 of them received through marriage
4 of them received through family sponsorship (two done by having an anchor baby)
2 of them received through military enlistment
2 of them received through work sponsorship
1 received through asylum

Anecdata, but in my experience getting an American to fall in love with you is by far the easiest option to gaining permanent residency, whereas getting one by being sponsored for a job is about on par with enlisting in the military in its success rate.

That always seemed a little ... uneven to me.

(note this doesn't include all of the temporary aliens who live here on H1-B's, TN's or as student visas. I know\have known many more of those who've come here, and several who've left when they saw how much of a pain in the ass it is to maintain permanent residency here; and how easy it is for that status to be lost by a careless mistake here or there)

though with that said, I'm sympathetic, but also partially with Etrigan in wondering why the author waited so long before applying for citizenship. From the article it sounded like he served in the 90s (alluded to shipping out during Desert Storm), applied for citizenship later in 2005, and had his drug offense somewhere between 2001 and 2005. I know that there are less than awesome tax consequences that can come from being an American citizen, but that's mostly for cases where an individual has very legitimate split loyalties (one of the Green Card holders I referred to above has been on a Green Card for 20 years and chooses not to be a citizen because he may want to move back to Europe and doesn't want to continue to be on the hook for new US income taxes if he reverts to being European again), so I'm just curious what his motives for delay may be.
posted by bl1nk at 12:30 PM on April 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


That whole story is just unbelievably sad. There are so many things wrong with this story, from having served without gotten citizenship to plain legal misconduct on the behalf of his lawyers. That poor family.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:32 PM on April 18, 2014


My story is one of at least 2 million under this presidency alone. I think we deserve at least a chance to ask a judge to let us stay with our families in the country we home.

Why does he think a judge would do anything else than enforce the law as it was already enforced against him? His is a sad, tragic story, but a direct result of statutes, duly enacted and rigidly enforced, by Big Government.

I think there should be no "immigration" laws at all and people should be free to live or move anywhere on the planet for whatever reason without government interference, but I think this places me in a minority. And so long as there are rules and Big Goverment to enforce them people will be hurt by the combination.
posted by three blind mice at 12:36 PM on April 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


though with that said, I'm sympathetic, but also partially with Etrigan in wondering why the author waited so long before applying for citizenship.

There is a filing fee for citizenship: $680. That's a decent chunk of cash that could account for someone having to really save up to pay it. Though apparently that fee is waived for service members, not sure if that was always the case. He'd still run into the "moral character" issue of having been convicted of a crime though.
posted by yasaman at 12:41 PM on April 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


i'm just curious what his motives for delay may be

My guess is that it probably wasn't high on his priority list - he probably was able to do what he needed to do without it - work, have a family, etc.

Heck my mother only applied for citizenship after she got tired of being hassled at the CDN-USA border every time we would travel, and she had been living and legally working here for at least 15 years.

It's a big and time-consuming bureaucratic pain in the arse process, so I guess one would only do it when one has to do it, if one has absolutely nothing else to do, or if one feels such a swell of patriotism that no line of any length can be too long or tape of any color be too red.
posted by bitteroldman at 12:42 PM on April 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


No one—not the judge, nor the lawyer I’d hired—told me when I pleaded guilty to the drug charge that I was giving up my right to be a legal permanent resident of the United States.

IA obviously NAL, but I wonder if his wife has any kind of grounds for suing that lawyer for failing to properly advise him.

I also wonder why he didn't pursue citizenship when he first got out of the Navy.

Hell, I also wonder why steering immigrants through application for citizenship isn't automatically part of the process when they're honorably discharged from the armed forces. I always assumed it was, and I'm yet again disappointed in my country to find out it isn't.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:44 PM on April 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


And so long as there are rules and Big Goverment to enforce them people will be [saved from all sorts of harms] by the combination.

This isn't a problem of "Big Government" (whatever that is), it's a social problem about what we choose to punish as a society. There are also many things that government does that prevent harm from befalling people.
posted by JohnLewis at 12:46 PM on April 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


Hell, I also wonder why steering immigrants through application for citizenship isn't automatically part of the process when they're honorably discharged from the armed forces. I always assumed it was, and I'm yet again disappointed in my country to find out it isn't.

It is. Actually, that steering is done long before discharge, and it has been since at least the mid-'90s. But there's only so much steering you can do, and for all I know, there's a lot less of it on Navy ships (though my limited experience with Navy ships is that the non-citizen sailors stick together pretty cohesively).
posted by Etrigan at 12:48 PM on April 18, 2014


APPLICATION OF NON-CITIZEN TO ENLIST IN THE UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES AND BECOME A UNITED STATES CITIZEN

Name: ______________________ DOB: ______________

Preferred dog tag color: [ ] Silver

[ ] Check here to not apply for permanent residency and eventual citizenship at the same time as entering the military.


Problem solved.
posted by fireoyster at 1:04 PM on April 18, 2014 [13 favorites]


Seems like our system has spent a lot of money to make this man's life miserable. A point that stands out (among others) is the mandatory sentencing law that shuffled him through the system without dealing with him as an individual.

I have to take him at his word that: he didn't know what those packages contained. But if they were bricks of weed he fell comfortably inside the "intent to distribute" parameters that are supposed to be aimed at folks somewhere above the level of casual user. You know--those dangerous druggies who corrupt our youth. A charitable guess would describe this as a situation where the intent of the law didn't meet the notion that inspired it...just poorly-written, sorry about that, but there's nothing to be done. After all, the law is the law and we are a nation of laws, not....um...never mind.

A more cynical read is that the prison-industrial cartel met the ultra-right wing hardliners head on, and a campaign of misinformation on the one hand, and fear and ignorance on the other has let them and another trickle of revenue to the income of the upper echelons, via the chain of middlemen who feed off it with various degrees of gusto. This is not news. I remember when a kid in Texas got three years for having a half-dozen weed seeds in his possession. This was in the early 70's. I bet you can trace this sort of minimization back to the days when our white ancestors debated on whether those pesky natives were actually humans.

In any case, this is a disgrace. The sad and frightening thing is that it's not an anomaly, but an integral part of our system. This isn't a bunch of isolated and tormented lab rats chewing off their feet, it's a necessary part of the trickle-up capitalism we all enjoy.

Now, tell me again: how do those who steal billions get ignored by the cops? My first impulse would be to blame it on the quality of the lawyers available to the rich, but I don't think that sort of demonizing will stand up to scrutiny. The rot is in our core values, not mere glitches in the system. It's a sort of insanity that keeps us busy trying to use sow's ears as purses.
posted by mule98J at 1:11 PM on April 18, 2014 [8 favorites]


three blind mice: As someone who's been through one country's citizenship process and is currently going through the permanent residency process for another country, AND who has family and friends who have done the migration thing all over the world, I share your politics re immigration. Visas can all burn in hell as far as I'm concerned.

Is there some sort of minimum waiting period between permanent residency and citizenship in the US? I know that in Malaysia you had to be a permanent residency for at least 12 years or so before you can even apply for citizenship, and if you've ever spent any time overseas, even on holiday, you have to add that in to your waiting period.

And it's not just the one-time fee either. There's about a zillion visa fees and application and processes and blah de blah that add up. Immigration is a stupidly expensive process and every so often they change the rules on you, making you start over.

Me being born and bred in Malaysia didn't make me an automatic citizen, because my parents were technically foreigners when I was born. We didn't get permanent residency till I was about 7, and that was a fraught process full of political drama and sabotage. We had to apply for citizenship twice - they rejected us the first time on some bullshit charge that my parents' language test essay was a few words too short and that I never was a PR. I didn't get Malaysian citizenship till my 26th birthday.

Now I'm going through the Australian permanent residency process, and what should have taken a couple of years is now 5 years and counting. Can't do a bloody thing till they approve the application - and who knows when that's going to happen. Every policy change and minister change means my application gets put to the back of the queue; at one point my app went without a case manager for 6 months because my original one left.

I got so fed up of waiting that I ran off to the US for 2 years of grad school. I have to return to Australia by the end of July otherwise I can never go back at all. All my American friends are wondering why I don't stay, why I didn't apply for OPT, why don't I just marry someone. I have my name in the Diversity lottery and that's it. I looked into the marriage visa thing when I was with my (now ex) girlfriend, but they stipulate that the foreign spouse needs to make more money than the local spouse, and my ex-GF is on SSI. I would stay in the US for OPT at least if it wasn't for the bridging visa situation.

Fuck immigration. All the policies everywhere are made and enforced by people who have never had to go through the system in their entire life. They have never asked immigrants about their situation or opinions or feelings before creating policy. Now you have stupid things like "No Way, They Will Not Make Australia Home" and cases like Howard Dean Bailey's and whatever. Urgh. Makes me so mad.
posted by divabat at 1:19 PM on April 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


For further information on just how bad those immigration prison are, I can't recommend Mark Dow's American Gulag highly enough.
posted by janey47 at 1:20 PM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Is there some sort of minimum waiting period between permanent residency and citizenship in the US?

It's three years for spouses of US citizens and five years for other permanent residents. USCIS Citizenship Through Naturalization page
posted by bradf at 1:25 PM on April 18, 2014


[ ] Check here to not apply for permanent residency and eventual citizenship at the same time as entering the military.

Problem solved.


I laughed, but there is -- and I say this as a former Army HR-equivalent officer -- no way that would work. We can't get 100 percent of people to fill in the forms requesting promotion, and that's when we have their entire chain of command receiving monthly updates on who needs to fill out the forms requesting promotion. Something that follows a servicemember for three years, through the MEPS, Basic, AIT, his or her (probably) first two duty stations... trust me, most people don't even manage to hold on to those dog tags for that long, and they're on chains around their necks.

In all seriousness, this is a problem, but Bailey has at least a little of the responsibility for not availing himself of a pretty common and well-publicized program when he had the chance.
posted by Etrigan at 1:29 PM on April 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


My wife had to go through the visa application process in the UK, after we moved from France to the UK (I'm a UK resident and she's an American) I don't make enough for her to be able to stay under the new immigration rules.

We were lucky that I had lived and worked in France for so long as we could then apply under this EU law, The Surinder Singh route

After an initial denial(which arrived on Christmas eve) we eventually had to go to an Immigration tribunal so a judge could rule on the case.

All in all it has taken about 9 months from the time of applying.
posted by MrCynical at 1:36 PM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Poor guy, I take him at face value on the drug packages. The impact it's had on his family is terrible.

I'm currently waiting for my Canadian Permanent Residency, should take about a year under my company sponsored Provincial skilled worker program. If I'd applied via the spousal route, it would take 3-5 years. That difference seems too much. The government is also talking about increasing the time to then qualify for citizenship. It's almost like they don't want you. Don't get me started on the mountain of paperwork.
posted by arcticseal at 1:52 PM on April 18, 2014


articseal: I've never seen a country with an immigration policy working under the principle of "we want you". Unless you're a rich White professional, I guess.
posted by divabat at 1:55 PM on April 18, 2014


The law is the law. It is often bad law. It sometimes gets changed, as the
dems now trying to fix immigration. Take pot. It is in the same class as heroin and can land you in jail--esp. if you are not white. But this is now being changed and made more sensible. And ,no, you can not serve your country in the if legally it is not your country. Don't like what this post is about? Write your elected officials and demand change.
posted by Postroad at 2:44 PM on April 18, 2014


And ,no, you can not serve your country in the if legally it is not your country.

Define "not your country". Not an official citizen? Not born there? Not raised there? Not having the Seal of Approval from the Government?

Could I have called Malaysia "my country" before my 26th birthday? Malaysia didn't seem to think so, no one else seemed to think so.

And the trouble I've found with contacting elected officials about anything is that since the people most affected by immigration policies are not allowed to vote by definition, they don't really care. And the ones that can vote don't seem as interested, since it's not something that affects them.
posted by divabat at 2:49 PM on April 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


Why wasn't he deported as soon as he finished his sentence? I was under the impression that any conviction of more than 12 months is an automatic trip offshore. I don't agree with what happened to him, but he might have had a chance to vote for different laws if he had just applied for citizenship when he was first elgible 20 years ago.
posted by Megafly at 3:29 PM on April 18, 2014


Also, the bed quota for immigration arrests? That is fucked-up, dystopian police-state bullshit, right there.

The law that just says that X beds have to be available. The actual law doesn't say they have to be filled.
posted by jpe at 3:36 PM on April 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


Countries only want you if they think you'll contribute. Here's the latest Canadian Federal Skilled Worker list.
posted by arcticseal at 3:45 PM on April 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


articseal: Australia has a similar skills list too, and it changed drastically just after I applied. Had I waited to apply for PR I wouldn't be eligible at all. I don't know what the case is in Canada, but in Australia they didn't bother looking at your work experience or actual skillset or testimonials - they just looked at your degree and picked out what subjects seemed like the best match. I had an interdisciplinary art degree, which made it tricky, and we eventually settled on Print Journalist (not on the list anymore) - and all my experience with community work and youth work meant nothing.
posted by divabat at 3:51 PM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm lucky, I have degrees in related subjects that are easy to understand (geology) and apply to some of those professions. There's also a demand for experience in the O&G industry due to the Big Crew Change and my 20 years in the industry was a big factor. I also have the fallback of having a Canadian spouse in the event that the skilled worker application called. So through the good fortune of being white (accident of birth), relevant education (18 year old me liked being outdoors) and experience, I'm marketable from an immigration aspect.

What sucks is how certain countries (Canada and UK included) let people in who effectively buy their way in with a chunk of cash (Guardian link) people who don't necessarily contribute to the betterment of society. All this while deporting people who contribute due to one screw up years ago, not even giving them a three strikes option.
posted by arcticseal at 4:05 PM on April 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's almost like countries want to prioritize letting people in that will have the biggest positive impact on the economy.
posted by jpe at 4:12 PM on April 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


jpe: Except their idea of what makes for "biggest positive impact on the economy" is often short-sighted, not really rooted in reality, and judged based on highly restrictive and unrealistic criteria.
posted by divabat at 4:18 PM on April 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


I think the average person in Vancouver will argue about any positive effect of the "cash for visas" program, since it's making it hard to afford a house. I'd rather 100 engineers, doctors or social workers were given entry than 1 billionaire who doesn't actively contribute.
posted by arcticseal at 4:33 PM on April 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


But that billionaire is a job creator...
posted by Madamina at 5:26 PM on April 18, 2014


Not really, there's a lot of empty houses being bought just for the passport and standing empty because they only spend a few days a year in the country (FPP earlier this month).
posted by arcticseal at 5:44 PM on April 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


My wife is French. We went through the utter nightmare of the immigration system back in the late 80s. The French, at that time, were very decent towards both if us; every single U.S. official we dealt with, however, treated us like shit. There was not a dust speck of human empathy to be found among any of them. I will never forget that fact.
posted by metagnathous at 5:46 PM on April 18, 2014


The USCIS fact sheet on naturalization via military service makes it pretty clear that he should have been eligible to become a citizen at any time after he'd completed one year of service, up until six months after separation.

Assuming he was in for a year, which it sounds like he was, he had the opportunity to become a citizen. It was there. The article doesn't really get at why he didn't take it when he had the chance, but all his other problems flow down from that. It's pretty hard to believe that he didn't know the opportunity existed (it's a pretty Big Deal if you're in the military as a non-citizen, which implies that someone had to do a fair degree of paperwork to get you in, in the first place).

But it's not like the system didn't give him the chance. He could have gotten naturalized, he had a chance, and for whatever reason he didn't fill out the paperwork and get it done. That sucks, but that's how bureaucracies work. There's paperwork, and deadlines, and you get your stuff done by the deadline or Bad Things happen to you. He didn't, and bad things happened.

I don't think that's a problem with the citizenship process per se. (Or rather, maybe it is, but there are a lot worse problems with the process than that. There are a lot of worthy people who ever, ever, get even remotely close to having the chance that he got.) The machinery of government doesn't really give a crap how good a person you are, or how in love with your wife you are, or about your kids; if you forget to file the paperwork on time, Bad Things happen.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:05 PM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Kadin2048: How consistent are those rules, how efficiently are they enforced, and are changes communicated well? I encountered all sorts of trouble with my Australian PR app just because the rules kept changing so quickly and people weren't terribly consistent with communication. At one point the Australian Government required some American paperwork that would have required me to break US law to obtain (I sorted it out, but still). Even the US student visa process was a weird maze of various pieces of paper and funky communication. I wouldn't be surprised if the process in actuality is a hell of a lot less clear than it seems in theory.
posted by divabat at 6:21 PM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


(the paperwork in question? Police clearances for every country I've lived in for at least a year. Their instructions on the Aus Immigration website on getting international clearances were woefully out of date; following those instructions would have led to the FBI destroying my application. They demanded a California police clearance too, yet Californian law states that I cannot get a police clearance for immigration purposes: after I contacted DOJ they gave me a separate form for exactly this purposes, but that form's existence is not made obvious by anybody.)
posted by divabat at 6:24 PM on April 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Police clearances are awful to get for certain countries. FBI lost the paperwork so I had to reapply, UK was quicker but expensive. Kudos to Scandinavia, both Denmark and Norway were free, the Norwegians even managed to email it within 24 hours and sent hard copy within the week. China was more efficient than the USA. My friend is at 11 months and counting waiting for his certificates from Libya.

When you lead a cosmopolitan international lifestyle, they don't tell you about the paperwork involved.
posted by arcticseal at 6:49 PM on April 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Reading that you just feel for this guy because he really does sound like a nice guy and whether or not he knew what was inside of it is a shame that someone can have their life ruined over a substance that wouldn't have ruined anyone else's life, the only person who would ever get their destroyed is him. Sad to to read that..
posted by lartinos at 7:18 PM on April 18, 2014


If my former co-worker is to be believed, and I have no particular reason not to as I knew her to be hard-working and loyal to a fault, the Jamaican drug gangs are infamous for ratfucking people like this and threatening their families out to third cousins with bloody consequences if they narc. So that was a little piece where I both wondered what he was leaving out of the story, and what led him to accept a random package from another Jamaican he hardly knew without a second thought.

My co-worker's husband, if she is to be believed, chose prison. And so she chose to go to school and move from being a maid to being a conscientious IT employee-of-the-week, because they had three kids.
posted by dhartung at 8:58 PM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


It is not just the US military that allows non-citizens to serve. The UK military is the same. And they do not make it automatic that those who serve get citizenship or that you and your family avoid the paperwork, misinformation and high cost of visas for the privilege of living in the country you are serving. Ask me how I know ...
posted by Megami at 1:18 AM on April 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I used up all my variants of the F-word reading this article. First, he took the plea-deal .. fuuu.. Then he's thrown into some sort of detention center before deportation for two years ¡¿wtf!? and so on.

He regrets being honest on the paperwork, when he really should regret not filing it while he was still serving in the army. The system is not meant for individuals, it has broad stroke rules, and his biggest mistake was not filing when he had that chance. I feel terrible for him, I do. It's a shame about his marriage. It's a travesty for his kids.

It never ceases to surprise me that the paperwork is so scattered and nightmarish, but it should be a surprise when there's states with different systems, in one country. I'm also not sure he would have "gotten away" with lying about that plea on the paperwork. I'm sure it would have been found at some point. But two years in some sort of detention center? Get real.
posted by dabitch at 9:24 AM on April 19, 2014


Americans get deported from the UK for falling expensively ill - people married to and parents of British citizens - we're as nazi as you ever are - fortunately we're a lot smaller, so when we ship you round our prison & deportation system we don't fly you in chains. We deport people to be tortured and murdered. People from countries who fought and died with us in two world wars.

I was once briefly in China and nearly everyone at some point went off on a shockingly intense, unexpected rant about Tibet (they're indoctrinated that in the West all TV criticizes China about Tibet (and degrades it as being full of rural poverty - actually their homeless level is shocking, and completely unexpected) so Westerners trigger Tibet rants) and i realized, never ever will the government be able to make a peaceable, sensible solution to Tibet, because they got an easy, free injection of support from arousing nationalism through hate, but now their policy is trapped by it. It's the same in the UK: immigration is seen as a free vote-winner. Nearly everyone thinks immigration is the biggest or nearly political problem and that we're overcrowded. 'More than Canada!' Canada is permafrost. Who is going to pay your pension in an elderly-heavy population - or do you want to starve then? The economy grows by the number of people who work, pay taxes and consume in it, it's not like there are only 22 jobs and you have to wait in queue for the previous occupant to die. Isn't the sort of person who crawled here from the Sahara the sort of person who's going to take the kind of risks and hard work entrepreneurs need to but which are not naturally cultivated by a safe life, where risk is big and safety available and sensible behaviour the norm? (The main difference between the first and third worlds is attitude to traffic. Or between now and my parents' youthful behaviour, what with the war, 'risk' meant something rather bigger than it does now.) That's the rant i give them, and they're ususally shocked - by the logic, not just the rant, i swear - but no country has taken politics as a fact-free game of posing, playing to gallery and talking crap but achieving nothing and thinking less to the limits Britain has.
posted by maiamaia at 2:54 PM on April 19, 2014


If anyone needs it, it has often struck me that, for the poorer, the best way to get UK residency would: move to Romania (holiday, i dunno): their forged-passport and forged-credit-card, identity-theft based business is legendary. Buy a top quality fake Romanian passport: must be a damn sight cheaper than any other type. Or maybe Bulgarian. Or ID card - you can immigrate on that. Swap it for a real one, perhaps using bribes (claim you lost it), replacement birth certificate. Get a real Romanian passport. Work here and pay taxes for five years, get UK passport. Cheaper and simpler. Bulgarians vary from tannedish blonde to as dark as a Bangladeshi (which is pretty dark. Amusingly, some are racists.) so should be good for most people. Or just live there for six months or something on handouts from UK lover (this is possible, the poverty is something else). Do it for me and get one over on the [expletives].
posted by maiamaia at 3:15 PM on April 19, 2014


maiamaia: I was with you until you said "dark as a Bangladeshi" - wtf? My family is Bangladeshi and our skin colors run the gamut.
posted by divabat at 5:33 PM on April 19, 2014


I can't fucking believe we're still putting people in goddamn chains like that. Actually, I can, because in New Mexico we're still naming shit after Oñate, but Christ that is awful. This entire story is awful. Anyone can make a mistake and get dragged into something like the drug possession, but only an immigrant of color would end up taking this kind of shit for it.
posted by NoraReed at 9:13 PM on April 19, 2014


Damn, what a fucked up situation.
posted by homunculus at 11:51 PM on April 19, 2014


Kadin2048: How consistent are those rules, how efficiently are they enforced, and are changes communicated well?

I'm not the guy's lawyer, or anyone's lawyer for that matter, and it seems like maybe he has some issues with whoever was, but I don't think the one-year-and-you're-good standard for becoming naturalized as a result of military service has changed recently. I mean, that was the case when I was in, back in the 90s, and I was aware of it even though it didn't apply to me. I peripherally knew a couple of guys who were working that route (I think they were Dominican, fwiw, although nobody really gave a crap). Everyone around them in training knew that they had a slightly weird thing going on though, because the non-citizenship issue meant they had security clearance and constant paperwork issues. I don't know how you'd not be aware of that constantly.

USCIS's rules are complex and sometimes arcane, but they don't change particularly often and they're publicized about as well as can be expected from a Giant Government Bureaucracy. I've helped friends through interactions with them (and could go on at length about how fucked the system is) but it's been my experience that they don't give any shit at all who you are, and they are 100% focused on whether you have dotted the I's and crossed the T's and otherwise fulfilled the legal requirements for whatever you're trying to do, and have the paperwork in triplicate to prove it. They are pretty much the Platonic Government Bureaucracy in that sense, which is to say they are like dealing with an Old Testament God, or the IRS.

(I'm sure that there is some level of celebrity or political-connectedness where that sort of aloofness breaks down, which sucks, but it's well above the level of mere mortals like anyone I know.)

It always sucks when someone falls into the gears of the bureaucracy on account of some failure to follow through, do the paperwork, whatever it happened to be. But in the case of something like citizenship, where there's inherently a limited-resource-allocation game going on, it's worth keeping in mind that when someone doesn't fill out the right paperwork and doesn't get in, it probably means that somewhere, there's someone who did fill out all the right paperwork who does make the cut. So I am pretty resistant to the idea that we should be giving anyone a free pass for dropping the ball, just because they have a touching personal story. It implies that the person, who we know nothing about, who got in instead, doesn't have an equally worthy story.

But yeah, that doesn't mean it's not a fucked up situation.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:35 AM on April 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


It is fascinating that one can serve the US army and not yet have gone through the citizen-hoops, or at least be well on the way. I recall a friend of mine who was Finnish-American, and had moved to the US when he was a child had to make a decision when he was 18. Conscription in Finland would bar him from ever becoming a us citizen, so he became one shortly after turning eighteen. You'd think that it would be the other way around too, anyone who knows how the US army works shouldn't be deported to another country.
posted by dabitch at 2:03 AM on April 20, 2014


Conscription in Finland would bar him from ever becoming a us citizen, so he became one shortly after turning eighteen.

I don't doubt that he sincerely believed that, but this is false.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:56 AM on April 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


The article doesn't really get at why he didn't take it when he had the chance, but all his other problems flow down from that. It's pretty hard to believe that he didn't know the opportunity existed (it's a pretty Big Deal if you're in the military as a non-citizen, which implies that someone had to do a fair degree of paperwork to get you in, in the first place).

There is so much that is not being said here. So motherfucking much. I was reading this article and then my eyebrows started raising and I started saying NO NO NO NO NO. If everything was copacetic, there's no way he wouldn't have known that he could and should apply in the service. And you need to bring your citizenship documents when you enlist, so it's not like the Navy wouldn't know that he wasn't a citizen and needed to get his shit in order. It's not like his commander wouldn't know he needed to get his shit in order. It's not like he wouldn't have encountered JAG at briefings, seen the big glaring "NEED TO BECOME A CITIZEN?" packets. This story is wildly, wildly, fucking implausible as stated. Admittedly, I was Army rather than Navy, but I can't imagine this is that different. It is inconceivable that he spent four years in the military without learning that the military can expedite your citizenship.

My bet - and I would put money on this - is that he got in trouble in the service such that he didn't think he would have been endorsed as being of good moral character. He says he had an honorable discharge, but I'm really skeptical. This is all stuff that would also been gone over in transitioning out. There's no mention of the major veteran organizations, which let me tell you, if he had an honorable discharge, they'd be lining up to help him. Especially if he's a war vet? This story stinks to high motherfucking heaven. Also, he says "I loved the Navy, but I wanted to go to school" but then goes to a community college? When the military helps you go to school while you're in, makes it easy, and hooks you up at least with a better school than that? Stinks stinks stinks stinks stinks. There is a lot wrong with his story, and it's really killing my ability to have sympathy. Especially the "I met a guy on the base, and then he asked me to send him stuff to my house and not the base" bullshit. What, like you can't get packages on base? Because you totally can. The only reason to have something sent to a private house rather than the base is if you know it's contraband. He is not the fainting innocent he is appearing in this article.
posted by corb at 6:20 AM on April 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


It doesn't sound unbelievable given how disorganized twenty year old dudes can be and how casually some longterm green card holders can be about their status.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:55 AM on April 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


So let's say he was not an angel. not organized and smart enough to apply for U.S. citizenship at the earliest possible time, not this, not that... maybe he was a guy who went through some crap, even did jail time.. and let's not forget he *did* do the time... but he got it together and ended up doing ok as an average non-saintly but productive member of the community... How is it in any way smart, fair, just, humane etc. to haul him in and say "oops, guess what? You get to spend 2 f***ing years in prison, then be dumped in Jamaica seeya-sorry-suks-to-be- you!?" For doing something people are doing every day RIGHT NOW in Denver Colorado, among many other places. And what I really don't get is when I hear "oh yea it's terrible, but it's his fault cause he should have had his shit together from day one."

Oh wait... I forgot, he's brown... sigh, when will those people ever learn. OWN YOUR RACISM FOLKS...
posted by anguspodgorny at 4:38 PM on April 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


You know how conservatives gleefully complain about having the Race Card played on them? You're the reason they get to do that.
posted by Etrigan at 4:46 PM on April 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


No. The reason they *get* to do it is because anybody gets to say pretty much anything they want to here in the U.S. within limits, and for the time being. They *do* it because they can't see their own cultural bias.
posted by anguspodgorny at 7:11 PM on April 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't disagree with why they do it. But the reason they aren't immediately laughed off whatever stage they happen to be on is because of ridiculous overreaching like what you did right there. People in this thread -- me included -- have been careful to point out that Bailey got caught up in a ridiculous cascade of bullshit, but that he also made some mistakes along the way. And your summary of that is that I hate brown people. You don't know shit about me, and you stomp in here and yell "OWN YOUR RACISM". You're exactly the stereotype that Rush Limbaugh has made all of his money railing against. Congratulations. You made Rush Limbaugh correct. Go ahead and check that off your bucket list.
posted by Etrigan at 7:48 PM on April 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


You don't have to hate brown people KKK-style to still carry racist beliefs, it's kind of unavoidable. Crying "I'm not racist!" and denouncing the "race card" is just playing to the very same conservatives you think people like anguspodgorny are indirectly supporting.
posted by divabat at 8:51 PM on April 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


ROU_Xenophobe it's possible that I misunderstood. He may have been dual (since I lived in the US as a child) and made the choice to avoid Finnish conscription. This was also pre 1990s so memory is hazy, but I know it had to do with the Finnish army.

So, in my mind I though there was a logic to it. Join the armed forces for a country = get citizenship for that country extended to you and help in obtaining it correctly. Fought for some other country? May not be quite as simple. On the surface, it makes complete sense. It's a derail but as corb shared here, they do keep flashing the "you need to get your citizenship" card in the army, so probably in the marines as well.

Still. Chain gang. 2 year deportation process. What in the ever loving F? Surely this is an anomaly? Why would deportation take this long?
posted by dabitch at 12:41 AM on April 21, 2014


You don't have to hate brown people KKK-style to still carry racist beliefs, it's kind of unavoidable.

And yet, that's exactly the motivation that anguspodorny -- while disingenuously claiming to agree that Bailey wasn't without fault in this scenario -- attributed every bit of resistance to the idea that Bailey was without fault in this scenario.

Crying "I'm not racist!"

Which you may note I didn't do.

and denouncing the "race card" is just playing to the very same conservatives you think people like anguspodgorny are indirectly supporting.

When someone comes in and throws down racism as the only possible reason anyone could object to Bailey being canonized as the patron saint of the unjustly deported, that is why the "race card" argument gets played. Because people like anguspodorny actually exist and are willing to spam up discussion with all-caps "OWN YOUR RACISM" and putting ugly words in other people's mouths.
posted by Etrigan at 4:37 AM on April 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


[Folks, you need to back off from making this a personal back and forth and return to discussing the article, or get in touch directly if you'd rather pursue it as a personal conversation. ]
posted by taz (staff) at 5:07 AM on April 21, 2014


It is inconceivable that he spent four years in the military without learning that the military can expedite your citizenship.

Did I miss in the article where he said that was the case? I can't find any mention of it one way or another. Maybe he knew and just didn't see it as relevant and important to his life at that time? Maybe the decision that being a citizen was important to him came later. That doesn't seem like such a leap. There are apparently plenty of eligible legal permanent residents who have not yet chosen to acquire citizenship. According to Pew Hispanic Center estimates, the share of all legal foreign-born residents who have become naturalized U.S. citizens rose to 56% in 2011, the highest level in three decades and an 18 percentage point increase since 1990 .... As of 2011, 9.7 million immigrants were eligible for naturalization but had not yet naturalized ....

I'm not trying to pick a fight, so apologies to taz if that's how this is taken. I'm just trying to say that I don't think there's any reason to assume this guy was UNAWARE of military programs for citizenship (though also note that while they existed previously, it was only in 2001 that someone became eligible for them the day they signed up), and it's kind of a red herring to continue to pursue that line of thinking.
posted by solotoro at 10:49 AM on April 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


I think it's less that people (myself included) are assuming that he was unaware -- as the part you quoted says, it's inconceivable to think he was -- but look at how much of the emotional appeal Bailey himself hangs on "I'm a veteran!" He puts it in the title, he has a decades-old uniformed shot of himself as the lead picture, he refers to how politicians "talk about America’s duty to our veterans"... If he's going to ride that horse that hard, it's not a red herring to pursue a line of thinking as to why he didn't avail himself of those programs in the decade-plus after he left the service.
posted by Etrigan at 11:35 AM on April 21, 2014 [4 favorites]


Let's not forget, he has a decades-old uniformed shot of himself entering basic training as the lead picture. That's the fucking MEPS picture, where they hang a hat and a flag on you and take pictures for you to send to mommy and daddy back home. It's not even a shot of him actually engaged in anything in the service. And that's what he chooses to lead with. It's telling as hell.

And none of us are saying "It's justified because he's a shitbag." We're saying that you don't get to play the veteran card, while refusing to take the responsibility that came along with servicemember status. You don't get to be a dirtbag, and then bemoan how no one is treating you like you deserve.
posted by corb at 1:48 PM on April 21, 2014


For the record, I'm not saying either of those things; Bailey appears to have served honorably and gotten his life back together after what was at best a pretty dumb thing to do. He deserves to be a citizen, and he certainly doesn't deserve to have been passed around like he was by the immigration and justice systems.

I just wish that he'd been smarter when he had a good opportunity to be smarter; if he'd been as gung-ho about "his country" back when he was serving it, none of this would have happened.

That's the fucking MEPS picture, where they hang a hat and a flag on you and take pictures for you to send to mommy and daddy back home. It's not even a shot of him actually engaged in anything in the service. And that's what he chooses to lead with. It's telling as hell.

I think I have two pictures of myself in uniform: one where I'm sitting on a Bradley and pointing a banana at a buddy, and one where I'm reading a book surrounded by sleeping people waiting for a C-130 hop. I don't like pictures. That's not "telling," it's just that I don't have anything else, and I've never been deported.
posted by Etrigan at 2:02 PM on April 21, 2014


I think I have two pictures of myself in uniform: one where I'm sitting on a Bradley and pointing a banana at a buddy, and one where I'm reading a book surrounded by sleeping people waiting for a C-130 hop. I don't like pictures. That's not "telling," it's just that I don't have anything else, and I've never been deported.

According to corb, you're a dirtbag.
posted by Talez at 4:10 PM on April 21, 2014 [5 favorites]


I don't think anyone;s saying he's a dirtbag simply for the fact that he possesses a picture of himself in uniform.

I think people are saying that it's wrong of him to USE that picture to garner kneejerk sympathy for himself, when the proper way to leverage his veteran status to avoid deportation was not to pull heartstrings, but to avail himself of the assistance that was in place to achieve citizenship upon his honorable discharge.

I could, however, be misreading other people's intentions.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:11 AM on April 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


> You don't get to be a dirtbag, and then bemoan how no one is treating you like you deserve

Let's say he was a dirtbag, and knew that the drugs were drugs, etc. Still. He'd been caught, he served his time plus two additional years.

If we believe that prison is supposed to rehabilitate people, in theory he's been rehabilitated. If we believe that prison is for punishment, he's been punished.

What more does he have to do to be redeemed?
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:00 AM on April 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


The Underpants Monster, FWIW I'm reading it the same way you are.

The corpse in the library, the thing is, when you've been tried and found guilty to a federal offense as a non-citizen, you don't get to become a citizen. Thems the rules. If you dislike this you might want the rules to be changed, but the fact is these are the rules today.
posted by dabitch at 9:21 AM on April 22, 2014


I don't think anyone;s saying he's a dirtbag simply for the fact that he possesses a picture of himself in uniform.

My reading of corb's paragraph (when combined with her earlier statement: "My bet - and I would put money on this - is that he got in trouble in the service such that he didn't think he would have been endorsed as being of good moral character. He says he had an honorable discharge, but I'm really skeptical.") is that she is saying that he's a dirtbag because that's the only picture of himself in uniform that he provides.

The "MEPS picture" is taken of every initial-entry service member before they even get to Basic Training. For people who wash out of Basic or soon after, it's likely the only photo they have of themselves in uniform. That's the line I think corb is drawing -- if he had other pictures from his service (e.g., him at a port of call, him at his duty station, him out on the deck of the ship), he would have used them; because he doesn't, his service must have had something wrong with it, honorable discharge or no.
posted by Etrigan at 9:54 AM on April 22, 2014


Well, I'm not saying specifically he is a dirtbag because he only has a MEPS picture, I'm saying I find him leading with the MEPS picture kind of sketchy for reasons much along the lines of Etrigan's last paragraph. Also Etrigan you have like the most stereotypical service pictures ever, I don't know what you're talking about.

I'm saying he seems like a dirtbag overall, but I'm mostly judging that on the "No, uh, my friend, uh, said he needed to get packages off base, but I thought they were full of kittens!" Stateside, the mailroom is pretty non-judgmental. They don't care if you're reading porn or what have you. They only care about blatantly illegal shit.
posted by corb at 10:53 AM on April 22, 2014


If US citizenship was based on not and never being a dirtbag the US as we know it likely wouldn't even exist to begin with.
posted by divabat at 11:13 AM on April 22, 2014


If not born with it, it is based on "did not commit a federal offense".
posted by dabitch at 11:33 AM on April 22, 2014


Side question: I know zero about Jamaican culture - if a casual acquaintance asks you to receive packages for him and drop them off at a strange address, and you don't know what's in the packages, is that not a giant red flag for "I'm getting involved in something illegal" the way it would be for someone raised in the U.S.?

Of course, automatic mandatory sentences remove judicial discretion, and there ought to be a better appeals process for deportees.

On the flip side, I have a cousin whose drug dealing just kept escalating and escalating, and because the judge was my uncle's Masonic brother, he kept being let off or getting slaps on the wrist (even after my uncle asked the judge to stop doing it). A mandatory sentence was the only thing that got him to turn his life around.

F****d if I know what the answer is.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:49 AM on April 23, 2014


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