Imagine that you came to the U.S. to make a better life. Say you joined the military during the Vietnam conflict to get your citizenship and once you got out, you went about starting a family and putting down roots in your community. You decide to take your wife on a cruise and suddenly, you find yourself the subject of a federal investigation because you’re not a U.S. citizen.
That’s exactly what happened to 58-year-old Mario Hernandez, and he’s not the only one.
Living with an Immigration Status in Limbo
What would you do if something like this happened to you? We’d advise you to talk to a Milwaukee immigration attorney right away, of course, because things can quickly spiral downhill when you don’t have a lawyer in your corner.
Before his attorney took his case to the media, USCIS was actually tallying up the number of times Hernandez voted without being a citizen, despite the fact that he was supposed to have been given automatic citizenship upon an honorable discharge from the military. (In case you’re interested, Hernandez eventually ended up taking his Oath of Allegiance in a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office, and everything is fine now.)
Current Service Members Don’t Get Automatic Citizenship
It’s interesting to note that the ENLIST Act, which would give veterans of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom—the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—the automatic citizenship that their predecessors were entitled to receive, was tossed out of the National Defense Authorization Act.
That means if you’re currently serving or if you’re a veteran, you weren’t given citizenship (despite what your recruiter may have told you at the time of your enlistment). One veteran, Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba (ret.) has taken to media appeals to get this changed – but in the meantime, if you’re in a situation like this, you need to know what to do.
If you haven’t taken an Oath of Allegiance and you have nothing that says you’re a citizen of the United States, you need to get in touch with a Milwaukee immigration lawyer. Your attorney can fight for your rights as a veteran and help ensure that you don’t end up in Mario Hernandez’s shoes.