Date of Graduation

Fall 12-25-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Migration Studies


College of Arts and Sciences


Migration Studies

First Advisor

Bill O. Hing


The purpose of this research is to argue that U.S. immigration policy, specifically the 1996 IIRIRA (also known as IIRAIRA), needs to change regarding the legal treatment of immigrant U.S. military veteran deportees due to the following concepts. The first concept is to articulate how the criminalization of immigration, and how the military system intersects to facilitate the Deportation of U.S veterans. A key concept in this analysis is the standard of “good moral character” set by the U.S. government that enlistees need to meet to be accepted into the military; this standard is also used against immigrant veterans during immigration proceedings. Third, to show how workplace hazards-- that come from military culture, combat, deployments, and difficulty transitioning back to civilian life-- result in traumatic experiences directly linked to non-citizen veterans' deportation. Immigrant U.S. veterans who return to the civilian culture with traumatic experiences can experience deportation because of the criminalization of immigration, specifically the 1996 IIRAIRA. I interconnect the three elements by separating this research paper into seven parts. First, I look at the historical context of immigrants in the military to demonstrate that migrants have a long history of heroism rather than criminality. Second, I discuss the criminalization of immigrants and how the 1996 IIRAIRA sparks the deportation of non-citizen veterans. Third, I argue that when migrants enlist into the U.S. military, they meet the government requirements of the "good moral character" clause highlighted in the 1996 IIRAIRA. Fourth, I talk about the lack of accountability and manipulation of enlistment by the military and analyze military cultures' effects, such as encouraging violence and traumas that can lead to deportation. Fifth, I analyze the difficulties of veterans struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and transitioning back to civilian life, which includes a lack of support from veteran affairs that can also lead to deportation. Six, I explain the after-effects and possible dangers of deporting a veteran. Seventh, I critique the U.S. deported veteran policies, analyze current Deported Veteran proposals in effect, and suggest improved legislation that will allow deported veterans to return to the United States. Through text, law and policy reviews, and interviews, this research seeks to advance the understanding of how the intersects of U.S. immigration policies, criminal laws, and the military system facilitate the deportation of Latino non-citizen U.S. military veterans. The interviewed participants in this research were recruited using the snowball method. The data gathered demonstrates that immigrant veterans experience a typical transition of being veterans, but they also experience deportation because they are migrants.