Story Archive

Thank You for Your Service, Now Get Out

“I’m proud to be an American soldier,” said Ramdeo Chankarsingh, 44, of South Ozone Park, N.Y. He was promised if he served in the military he would be given citizenship, so the Trinidad native enlisted in the Army in 1991 and served nine years as a medic, with tours of duty in Italy, Germany, and Kosovo during the height of the first Gulf War. When his green card expired in 1999, a military judge ordered him to file for citizenship. However, he was then told that because he served during peacetime, he needed a valid green card. A year later he received an honorable discharge, and has been in limbo ever since. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has begun deportation proceedings. “My husband has been here for more than 30 years,” said his wife, Savitri, noting they have two children, both U.S. citizens. “In his heart he’s an American citizen. It’s just paperwork.” (MS/New York Daily News, WABC New York) ...And in a bureaucracy, proper paperwork is more important than proper respect.
Author’s Note: As of 2021 I couldn’t find any updates on Chankarsingh’s status. It could have gone either way: many veterans who relied on the same promise have indeed been deported, to America’s everlasting shame.
Original Publication Date: 03 April 2011
This story is in True’s book collections, in Volume 17.

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