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ICE to Formalize Consideration of Military Service for Noncitizen Vets Facing Deportation

FILE - U.S. soldiers salute during international military exercises at training grounds outside Lviv, Ukraine, Sept. 3, 2018.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Tuesday it is formalizing a policy that would consider service in the U.S. military when a noncitizen veteran faces possible deportation.

"ICE values the incredible contributions of noncitizens who have served in the U.S. military," ICE Acting Director Tae D. Johnson said in a press release. "Through this directive, ICE will consider U.S. military service by a noncitizen or their immediate family members when determining whether to take civil immigration enforcement decisions against a noncitizen."

Some veterans face deportation after committing crimes or falling through the cracks of the immigration system.

The Air Force Times reported that some 250 noncitizen veterans faced deportation between 2013 and 2018, according to a 2019 Government Accountability Office report.

"Specifically, ICE policies require agents and officers to document the decision to issue a (notice to appear) to a veteran, but do not require agents and officers to identify and document veteran status when interviewing potentially removable individuals," according to the GAO report.

The report found that some agents did not know they were supposed to ask a potential deportee about their prior military service.

For more than a decade, the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program allowed noncitizens to join the military and eventually earn citizenship.

The Air Force Times reported that the program was shrunk at the end of the Obama administration and was suspended during the Trump administration.