Marine Veteran Faces Deportation
Despite his service to the U.S., Carlos Solorzano doesn’t have American citizenship
ANCHORAGE - Carlos Solorzano considers himself an American.
“As far as I am concerned I grew up here,” said Solorzano, while touching up color on a client inside the Primal Instinct tattoo parlor. “I speak better English than I do Spanish.” He adds that his stepfather, an American, taught him what it’s like to “be a patriot,” and inspired him to be a marine.
Solorzano was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in 2007. After six years in the service, the 27-year-old Mexico native could be deported.
“It feels pretty insulting to be honest with you,” said Solorzano.
In 2006, while he was in West Virgina, Solorzano got into an argument with a Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO).
“I think I said a few things that embarrassed him and he ended up leaving,” said Solorzano. “His friend came out, someone I didn't even know, had no prior relationship with, and started yelling at me and my friends. [He] said we were being disrespectful, [and] we were out of line.”
According to Solorzano, the man continued to approach them and he began to feel threatened.
“I thought I took action to defend myself,” he paused and inked up his needle before continuing. “But according to the judge that was an inappropriate action.”
The man Solorzano fought got a busted nose and lip. He pressed charges. Solorzano was sentenced to a year in prison, but because he was an active duty Marine he was only required to serve for two days in jail.
Solorzano said he thought the incident was behind him, until December when he and his fiancée were returning from vacation in Cabo.
“We made a list of all the things that we would have to sell, or I would be selling, and kind of planned that if this happened, that if he went back to the immigration officer and he detained him,” said Solorzano’s fiancée Danielle White.
Solorzano isn’t the only veteran at risk of being deportation. About five percent of all active-duty military members are not U.S. citizens.
The bill would ensure due process for all non-citizen veterans and would require authorization of Homeland Security before they are deported. Solorzano hopes this bill would help others in the same situation.
“A lot of times people don't get their citizenship while they are in the military, and then what happens is after they get out of the military the Homeland Security folks will come after them and try and deport them sometimes,” said immigration attorney Margaret Stock, who is an Army vet herself.
“Because it’s immigration there is no right to a free attorney if you can’t afford one. So most of the people who the government is trying to deport don’t have attorneys because they can't afford to hire somebody.”
In the past two years the U.S. has broken deportation records, deporting over 700,000 people. Over 90 percent of those are from Latin America.
Solorzarno said he’s in still in Alaska today because, unlike many other non-citizen veterans, he could afford an attorney.
“So what I got from this is if you can pay your way then you can stay,” said Solorzano. “If you can’t its too bad.”
Freedom, this soldier learned, isn’t free.