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Immigration Law

Nielsen Thumbs Nose at Mattis over Deportation of Veterans

Alex Horton, Washington Post, Apr. 4, 2018 - "Immigration and Customs Enforcement appears to have ignored a directive from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to prevent the deportation of noncitizen troops and veterans, seeking to remove a Chinese immigrant despite laws that allow veterans with honorable service to naturalize, court filings show. Xilong Zhu, 27, who came from China in 2009 to attend college in the United States, enlisted in the Army and was caught in an immigration dragnet involving a fake university set up by the Department of Homeland Security to catch brokers of fraudulent student visas. Zhu paid tuition to the University of Northern New Jersey, created by DHS to appear as a real school, long enough to ship to basic training using the legal status gained from a student visa issued to attend that school. Then ICE found him and asked the Army to release him for alleged visa fraud. He left Fort Benning, Ga., on Nov. 16, 2016, in handcuffs as an honorably discharged veteran. He was detained for three weeks and released. Zhu is waiting to hear a judge in Seattle rule in his removal proceedings. His attorney says his client is a victim of federal entrapment. ... “Anyone with an honorable discharge … will not be subject to any kind of deportation,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon in February, describing exceptions for criminals and anyone who has been authorized for deportation in an agreement he said was made with DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. Zhu’s attorney, retired Army officer [and MAVNI creator and MacArthur Fellow] Margaret Stock, told The Washington Post those exceptions do not apply to him. Zhu was released after seven months of service, according to court documents obtained by The Post. His driver’s license from Washington state has “veteran” printed on it. His status should mean that he can proceed with citizenship. Laws in place since World War I say noncitizens who leave the military under “honorable conditions” are eligible for naturalization."