Immigrant Veterans' Memorial Day Protest Sheds Light On Deportation Issue In Armed Services

Deported U.S. veterans who were promised citizenship for their service, protested in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on Memorial Day.

AFP News Agency posted a picture to Twitter on Tuesday (May 30) of U.S. Army veterans protesting on Memorial Day in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Why would U.S. Army veterans be protesting in Mexico on a day meant to honor their fallen peers? Because after they provided their service, under the impression that they would be granted citizenship, they were deported back to what the U.S. government defined as their “home” countries.

There was no additional information on the seemingly peaceful protest, but the story of the Deported Veterans Support House provides enough insight into their anything-but-patriotic tales.

For the U.S. holiday dedicated to veterans, Now This posted a profile on the deported veterans community built from the ground by a fellow deported veteran, Hector Barajas. “The Bunker” has a database of over 300 men and one woman in which they are fighting the ultimate battle of U.S. citizenship for. The range of countries and nations that “The Bunker” serves includes Colima, Peru, Juarez, Barbados, Dominican Republic, Trinidad, Haiti, and more.

Of their vastly growing database, lies the story of a U.S. veteran with Jamaican citizenship. He remained unidentified throughout the video, but shared his journey of how he went from high school straight to the war, and found his way back to a country that was foreign to him for 23 years, because of a 14-year-old, marijuana-related conviction. He reminisced on how he felt as he was on his way to war in his uniform, remembering experiencing a “sense of pride.” The veteran in question left behind his mother, wife, kids and siblings.

Jeffrey Brown, who was also deported to Jamaica, addressed the stigmas that are paired with being deported, detailing it as a “death sentence,” “life sentence in prison,” or wearing a “Scarlet Letter.” Antonio Romo, who was deported to Mexico in 2008 after serving seven years in federal prison for selling cocaine, embodies the feeling of betrayal he’s experienced, “I feel abandoned. I feel left behind. I feel like a prisoner of war. For God’s sake, we’re veterans.”

 

Jennie Pasquarella of the ACLU in Southern California, details the systemic issues that exist in relation to this group of veterans. Pasquarella identifies what seems to be the main legal issue as the lack of a process to distribute entitled V.A. benefits to deported veterans. Essentially, while they are entitled to benefits such as disability compensation and pension, without a system that recognizes them, their service goes unaccounted for.

Romo expresses that he knows that if he never makes it back to America while he’s alive, he’ll at least be buried there. All veterans qualify to be buried in the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Pasquarella admits her astonishment with this oxymoron, stating, “The law provides that you can come home dead but not alive.” The Director of Immigrants’ Rights continues, “Because if you serve in the military you’re entitled to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery and have a military burial. But you aren’t valued enough for your service to be able to come home and be reunited with your family.”

The simple fact that of the veterans Pasquarella has spoken with at the ACLU, 73 percent of them didn’t have the assistance of a lawyer throughout their deportation process, to being led blindly through a system that will allow you to put your life on the line, but revokes the citizenship that they promise you, highlights the one-sided patriotism that these deported veterans have experienced.

The video details how soldiers are told they receive citizenship, but never described the path on which they need to travel to get there. Some have been told by higher command that they have no idea either. As a result, they assume their citizenship is granted, naturally, through the enlistment oath, which is nearly identical to the naturalization oath.

But still, many of these veterans are sent down a variation of the pre-school to prison pipeline system, which sends them from war to prison and back to their “home countries.” But, as veteran Antonio Romo says, “We paid our dues. I don’t think we deserve this.”

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Nas Says 'Illmatic's Legacy Has “Started To Take On A Life Of Its Own"

Nas’ discography of studio albums has reached double-digits since the release of Nasir in 2018 but given this span, his fans and hip-hop aficionados continue to herald the impact of his debut album Illmatic. Celebrating 25 years this year, the “Cherry Wine” rapper raised a glass in commemoration of this milestone by previously hosting a Symphony Orchestra performance and receiving accolades along the way.

However, during an interview with Haute Living, the Queens native said although he’s grateful for the love of his platinum-selling project, “it has started to take on a life of its own.” The 46-year-old continued to state his claim by noting that the rest of his discography is worthy of recognition and that this year has been a good run for Illmatic.

"Twenty-five years is a lifetime. So I did another Symphony Orchestra show for Illmatic this year; I got another plaque for it. I’m very grateful—it’s so crazy—but to celebrate one album when I’ve made over 10, all the things I’ve worked on—and I’ve been working for so long—to celebrate one album over all else is corny to me," he said. "I don’t want to celebrate another Illmatic anything. I’m done. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for appreciating that record, but it’s over.”

While music will always remain a passion—Nas mentioned a third and fourth installment of his The Lost Tapes series—the entertainer might take his talents to other areas of creativity and entrepreneurship. “Maybe [I’ll open] a new level bookstore, maybe [I’ll do] Broadway,” he said. “I do three things at a time; that’s how I live. The next three things I do, I hope they’re more exciting than anything that I’ve ever done.”

Illmatic remains one of music's most vivid and poetic albums, hosting quintessential East Coast rap melodies from DJ Premier, Large Professor, Q-Tip, Pete Rock, Faith N., and L.E.S. The sole feature goes to fellow The Firm member AZ.

In an interview with Red Bull, Nas discussed the real-life situations Illmatic hosts within its tracks which aids in its truth of standing the test of time. "There’s a lot of historical value in there. Back then there was a killing of a guy named [Jose “Kiko”] Garcia in Washington Heights by the police that I mention in my lyrics. I talk about the Supreme Team, a drug gang in Queens, and their leader named Supreme, who is now locked up," he said. "I talk about Ron G who was a Harlem mixtape DJ who was really popular at the time. It was kind of the first time you’d hear street conversation by someone who knew these guys personally at the time."

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Halle Berry Is #TeamZoeKravitz As Catwoman For Upcoming 'Batman' Film

Earlier this month, it was announced that actress/musician Zoe Kravitz would step into the sleuthing role of Catwoman for Matt Reeves’ The Batman. Joining in on the chorus of people that are elated to see Kravitz in this role is fellow Catwoman Halle Berry.

The Oscar Award-winning actress took to Twitter to congratulate Kravitz on her new job, writing “Keep shining queen and welcome to the family!” Kravitz will star opposite Twilight’s Robert Pattinson who’ll play the Dark Knight.

Special shout-out to your new #CatWoman, the eternally graceful & extremely bad ass @ZoeKravitz. Keep shining Queen & welcome to the family! ♥️✨ pic.twitter.com/9YJ2EekcNG

— Halle Berry (@halleberry) October 17, 2019

In 2004, Berry starred as Catwoman in the film of the same name. Directed by Pitof, the movie also starred Alex Borstein, Benjamin Bratt, Frances Conroy, and Sharon Stone. Although the movie wasn't a box office success, Berry said it opened up a world of opportunities in Hollywood.

"Everybody around me said, 'Girl, don't do it. It's going to be the death of you. It's going to end your career.' But guess what I did? I followed my intuition and I did a movie called Catwoman and it bombed miserably," Berry said at 2004's Matrix Awards, per Glamour. "While it failed to most people, it wasn't a failure for me because I met so many interesting people that I wouldn't have met otherwise, I learned two forms of martial arts and I learned not what to do."

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Issa Rae Launches Her Own Record Label

Issa Rae has a lot of projects in the works, and she’s making room for another big venture. On Thursday (Oct. 18), the Insecure star announced the launch of her new record label, Raedio, along with introducing the world to TeaMarr, the imprint’s first artist.

“Beyond excited to present the first amazingly talented artist from my new label RAEDIO,” the Emmy winner captioned a clip of TeaMarrr’s music video where she makes a cameo.

 

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Beyond excited to present the first amazingly talented artist from my new label RAEDIO, TeaMarrr (@imaliltcup)! Check out her song and video, "Kinda Love" on all streaming platforms now! (@theraedio)

A post shared by Issa Rae (@issarae) on Oct 18, 2019 at 8:06am PDT

The record label is a partnership with Atlantic Records, according to Variety. Rae’s label will also be responsible for supervising the music on A Black Lady Sketch Show, which she executive produces.

“Music has always been an essential part of every project I do and working with emerging talent is a personal passion,” Rae said in a statement. “Raedio allows me to continue that work within the music industry and audio entertainment space. The Atlantic team are innovators in terms of shifting and shaping culture. I’m excited to join forces with them to discover new artists.”

Raedio is technically her first foray into the recording industry, but music has always been a “central character” in Insecure, Atlantic Chairman & COO Julie Greenwald noted.

“Issa Rae is a next-level, future-thinking creative force who’s been breaking down cultural barriers and conquering one field after another,” said Greenwald. “She’s made music a central character in her artistic evolution, and now she’s brought all that amazing passion, inspiration, and taste to the formation of Raedio. We’re thrilled to be partnering with Issa and her team on this exciting new venture, and TeaMarrr is the perfect artist to launch with.”

Wath TeaMarrr's  “Kinda Love” music video below.

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