- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 6, 2019

Homeland Security failed to cut U.S. military veterans breaks in deportation cases, the government’s chief auditor said in a new report Thursday that confirms complaints some members of Congress had lodged over too-harsh treatment.

The Government Accountability Office said Homeland Security doesn’t even have the ability to track when veterans are ousted, so it’s not clear how many times it’s happened, nor how many of those were done in violation of policy.

Under a 2004 memo, before a military veteran is a target for deportation, managers at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are supposed to review the history of the person and decide whether his or her record is exemplary enough to warrant an exception.

In an Obama-era memo, ICE was also ordered to see if veterans facing deportation might qualify for citizenship, which would usually cancel their deportation.

But ICE “does not consistently follow these policies,” the GAO concluded.

Indeed, agency officials told the GAO they weren’t even aware of the 2004 or 2015 policies until investigators raised the matter with them last year.

ICE investigators said they operated without regard to a target’s veteran status.

“Because ICE did not consistently follow these policies, some veterans who were removed may not have received the level of review and approval that ICE has determined is appropriate for cases involving veterans,” the GAO concluded.

Homeland Security said that in every one of the 100 cases GAP reviewed, the veterans being deported had felony convictions for drugs, sexual abuse, firearms violations, kidnapping or terrorist threats.

Still, the department accepted each of GAO’s three recommendations to improve its understanding and adherence to policy, and to collect data on veterans who face deportation.

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