BOHEMIA, Jamaica — Howard Bailey joined the U.S. Navy straight out of high school in Brooklyn figuring he would see the world. He didn’t expect to end up back in his native Jamaica, raising pigs and barely getting by in the poor village of his childhood.
The 43-year-old father of two was deported in May 2012 from the U.S. to his Caribbean homeland because he was convicted of a marijuana-related felony drug charge in 1997 — despite the four years he served in the Navy, including a few months on a supply ship during the first Gulf War.
Weighed down by worry and bone-deep weariness, he wants to get back to his family and the future he thought he was building in Virginia. Bailey was a teenager when he and his siblings followed their mother to New York City as green-card holders (legal permanent residents), and he long considered the United States his home.
“It’s so hard,” Bailey said, gesturing at a few rough-hewn pigpens and yam vines climbing up bamboo sticks. “I went from owning a successful trucking business and two homes in the U.S., paying my taxes, raising two beautiful children with a beautiful wife to, well, what you see here.”
Bailey’s case has drawn the attention of immigration lawyers and media because his crime seems relatively minor and the punishment extreme. But he’s not unique: Thousands of non-citizens who served in the U.S. military have been deported to countries around the globe in recent years, immigrant advocates estimate. The precise number is unknown because the U.S. government does not track deportees by veteran status.
Some say the deportees deserve special consideration because of their military service. “We treated you as a national when you wore the uniform, we should treat you as one when it comes off,” said Pennsylvania immigration attorney Craig Shagin, who assists a group for deportees called Banished Veterans.
If legal permanent residents die while serving in the U.S. military, they are granted a military funeral and citizenship. But if they finish their service without becoming nationalized and are later arrested, as Bailey was, they are subject to immigration laws passed in 1994 and 1996 that expanded the list of deportable offenses.
Read the full story at jamaicaobserver.com
5 thoughts on “US Navy Veteran Deported Back to Jamaica Despite Years of Service”
But it's ok to legalize marijuana for the whites folks in Colorado and soon everywhere else…like it's ok for colleges to get rich off players but then make it a crime if those same guys to except money of any kind for themselves…just a bunch of bigots and you too (cole griffin)!!
A felony charge could be for a small quantity.
Cry the beloved African Child…Your time is now….
I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend til the death your right to say.
you ungrateful idiot ! Wait until this happens to your gran-children so you will learn .