LULAC Urges Return Of Deported MST Survivor, Iraq Veteran, And Mother
Nation’s Largest and Oldest Latino Civil Rights Organization Calls for End to Exile of Army Pvt. Laura Meza
Washington, DC - The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), today urged the Biden Administration to accelerate the return of former Army soldier and honorably discharged veteran, 33-year-old Laura Meza. She would be the first female, former servicemember repatriated following President Biden’s pledge to reopen all cases of undocumented veterans who were exiled from the United States after being adjudicated for crimes and completing their prison sentences.
“She is paying the price even now, more than a decade after a single mistake for which she has paid her debt to society,” says Domingo Garcia, LULAC National President. “Yet, she still cannot be with her daughter in the country she called home since she was a little girl. We urge President Biden to authorize Laura’s return quickly. She’s suffered long enough,” adds Garcia.
“What hurts the most is being away from my daughter and feeling helpless all these years,” says Meza. “I was young and afraid of retaliation and didn’t know where to turn for help after being sexually assaulted by a fellow soldier in Germany before deploying to Iraq. I carry this pain and shame every day. I committed a crime and I’ve served my time for it. All I want now is to come home and be a mother to my daughter and rebuild my life in the ONLY country I know as my own,” she adds.
"Many other deported soldiers are like Laura Meza; combat veterans, including individuals who sustained physical and emotional trauma on and off the battlefield, who served as far back as the Vietnam War,” says Crystal Romero, LULAC Chair, National Subcommittee on Military and Veterans’ Legislative Affairs. “The majority were legal U.S. residents for decades. Congress must address this injustice by passing the Veteran Deportation Prevention and Reform Act,” adds Romero.
“Laura’s honorable service matters,” says Danitza G. James, M.S.W., and U.S. Army Iraq veteran. “She is a multiple trauma survivor who lacked medical care and that led her to maladaptively cope and engage in dangerous behavior to survive an invisible war. This is a war that many service members face after experiencing trauma. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, at least 1 in 15 service members will suffer from a Substance Abuse Disorder and at least 20 percent will experience PTSD after serving in war conflicts. Laura’s disadvantage was to have served this country with a green card,” adds James.
“Laura Meza like many foreign-born Americans has served our country and earned the right to call herself an American and to live in the United States, a place that she continues to call home, even after she was unjustly exiled,” says Joel Taboada, President, LULAC Green Card Veterans Council #5310. “Green Card Veterans asks the Biden administration to reconsider this case and follow the example set by his administration with the case of Mr. Jose Camacho. Let’s immediately repatriate this veteran back home to the United States, where she would have the support of her family, the VA healthcare system, and the veteran community,” he adds.
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest Hispanic civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 1,000 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services, and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting the critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit https://lulac.org/