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Kevin L. Roseland, Published September 25 2010

Justice was not served

On Sept. 15, justice was not blind but merely closed her eyes and diverted her head. Although the past 28 years of my life have been spent working to improve the lives of disabled American veterans, I no longer speak in an official capacity. I have retired but continue to serve a population of deserving folks in any way I can.

A young man was sent to Mexico. He had been in this country since the age of 2. His family were legal citizens, and he was here on a permanent visa. After 9/11, wanting to serve his country, he joined the U.S. Army. He served what time he was given in an honorable fashion. He earned recognition while serving and has a brother who continues to serve in the U.S. Special Forces.

Due to some youthful indiscretions, his history, prior to the military, included a charge related to stealing hubcaps and tires. He was convicted, served his sentence and paid full restitution. Because his charge was a low felony at that time, his sentence necessitated that the U.S. government, after his service, put him into immigration hold.

He spent more than a year in immigration jail while his family and folks like me pursued his case. He lost, and in my opinion, this country and his family lost as well. He was sent to Mexico last week, even though he has no living family there. To my experience, he does not even speak the language all that well.

I ask: Is this the way we treat our disabled American veterans?

We have seen recently that individuals who stole from a local electronics store (they stole much more than hubcaps and tires)

had a Fargo judge reduce their potential criminal liability to a lower charge. Thus, those who were also immigrants would not be deported.

We have also recently seen our country spend many resources to obtain the release of Roxana Saberi, as well as the young woman who just recently was released from Iran. While I applaud this, I ask what makes their cases more critical than spending the resources to assist the plight of this veteran?

I will not specifically name names; however, a local government lawyer, a U.S. senator and the governor of our state failed, or refused, to intervene directly in this matter. The governor would not even agree to meet this veteran’s family to discuss the possibility of a pardon.

Today, I am ashamed and heartbroken that no one in a position of influence would intervene for this disabled American veteran. We demonstrate once again that the process is selective for those who cannot afford a full hearing. At least this veteran had the courage to sign on the dotted line.

Roseland is a former member of The Forum’s Readers Board.