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After US military service, these veterans face deportation




Mario Martinez, 54, an Army veteran, is facing deportation after serving four years in California state prison. While serving in the Army in the 1980s, he was deployed to Germany as part of U.S. forces sent to guard the Berlin Wall.
Mario Martinez, 54, an Army veteran, is facing deportation after serving four years in California state prison. While serving in the Army in the 1980s, he was deployed to Germany as part of U.S. forces sent to guard the Berlin Wall.
Dorian Merina/KPCC

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Army veteran Mario Martinez spent six years of his life fighting for the United States. Now he's fighting for the right to keep living here.

Martinez, 54, was born in Mexico, but came to the U.S. as a young child and became a legal resident. He joined the Army, served with the 82nd Airborne Division, and earned an honorable discharge. But more than a decade after he left the service, he was convicted of a felony, putting his immigration status in jeopardy.

"One mistake shouldn't make the rest of your life," said Martinez, who served four years in California state prison for an assault conviction stemming from a 2008 domestic violence case. "I mean, I paid for what I did, I did my time. I did it quietly, went in and got out."

After Martinez served his time, he was handed over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency that handles deportation for the Department of Homeland Security. He spent another 10 months in detention, then was released on bond in 2014. He currently lives in Southern California, while he awaits a court date in his deportation case.

Martinez is one of an unknown number of military veterans facing deportation for crimes committed after discharge. They're among the thousands of legal permanent residents who have been allowed to serve in the armed forces despite being non-citizens.

To read the full story, click here.

This is the first of two stories. Part two is here.

Guest host Libby Denkmann in for Larry Mantle

Guests:

Dorian Merina, reporter covering veterans’ issues for KPCC; he tweets @dorianmerina

Nathan Fletcher, combat veteran of the U.S. Marine Corp and chair of the Honorably Discharged, Dishonorably Deported coalition; he is a former CA State Assemblymember; he tweets @nathanfletcher



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