Army vet expelled from US fights deportation
by John Christoffersen, Associated Press
November 12, 2013 12:20 PM | 2066 views | 7 7 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In this undated family handout photo Sharon Giammarco, hugs her husband Arnold Giammarco, 57, at a relatives home in Rocky Hill, Conn. Arnold Giammarco legally immigrated to the United States with his family in 1960 at age 4. Never having become an American citizen Giammarco, a U.S. Army veteran, was deported back to Italy in November of 2012 after serving time on criminal charges. (AP Photo/Family Photo)
In this undated family handout photo Sharon Giammarco, hugs her husband Arnold Giammarco, 57, at a relatives home in Rocky Hill, Conn. Arnold Giammarco legally immigrated to the United States with his family in 1960 at age 4. Never having become an American citizen Giammarco, a U.S. Army veteran, was deported back to Italy in November of 2012 after serving time on criminal charges. (AP Photo/Family Photo)
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In this undated 2011 family photo Arnold Giammarco holds the hand of his daughter Blair, 2, at an Easter Egg hunt in Groton, Conn. Giammarco legally immigrated to the United States with his family in 1960 at age 4. Never having become an American citizen Giammarco, a U.S. Army veteran, was deported back to Italy in November of 2012 after serving time on criminal charges. Blair turns 5 years-old tomorrow. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Sharon Giammarco, Family Handout)
In this undated 2011 family photo Arnold Giammarco holds the hand of his daughter Blair, 2, at an Easter Egg hunt in Groton, Conn. Giammarco legally immigrated to the United States with his family in 1960 at age 4. Never having become an American citizen Giammarco, a U.S. Army veteran, was deported back to Italy in November of 2012 after serving time on criminal charges. Blair turns 5 years-old tomorrow. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Sharon Giammarco, Family Handout)
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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A U.S. Army veteran who turned his life around after struggling with drug addiction is fighting his deportation, saying he should not have been expelled last year for a minor criminal record after honorably serving his country and living here legally for more than 50 years.

Arnold Giammarco was deported to his native Italy over drug possession and larceny convictions, his attorneys said. The former Connecticut resident is seeking to reverse his deportation, arguing in a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday that immigration authorities never acted on his citizenship application in 1982.

For decades, authorities declined to deport veterans except in extraordinary circumstances, but Giammarco's lawyers say immigration agents have departed from that practice in recent years.

Giammarco, 57, did brief stints in prison for shoplifting in the 1990s and drug possession in 2007. He has been homeless at times, but his supporters said he got clean, became a father in 2008, found work and married.

"I think it's a shameful thing for the United States to take a man who has lived lawfully in this country for 50 years, who's raising a family, who's working productively, who volunteered for the Army, served honorably," said Michael Wishnie, a law professor at Yale University handling his case with law school students. "It's a shameful thing to deport him based on minor non-violent criminal convictions. It's a departure I think from our historic treatment of veterans."

Giammarco served in the Army from 1976 to 1979 and National Guard from 1980 to 1983 and had a green card to live legally in the U.S., Wishnie said.

Khaalid Walls, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, declined to comment on the specific case. Immigration officials contend in documents obtained by Yale students working on the case that his application wasn't completed.

ICE exercises prosecutorial discretion for veterans on a case-by-case basis when appropriate, Walls said. ICE issued a memo in 2011 that identifies military service as a positive factor that should be considered.

"We are very deliberate in our review of cases involving veterans," Walls said.

Giammarco's grandfather returned to Italy after he was wounded in World War I fighting in the U.S. Army. Giammarco and his parents came to live in the U.S. in 1960 when he was 4.

Giammarco and his supporters say he's had a tough time in Italy, with even relatives suspecting he must have committed a more serious crime to be deported after serving in the military. Giammarco, who spoke little Italian, eventually landed a part-time landscaping job.

"It was just a big nightmare," Giammarco said in a telephone interview.

Giammarco, whose daughter turned 5 on Tuesday, said he has missed three of her birthdays. His daughter asked him if he would be home for her birthday and Christmas.

"She said, 'Daddy, I'll save you a piece of cake," Giammarco said. "That just broke my heart."

Giammarco and his wife married July 4, 2010, the 50th anniversary of his arrival with his parents in the United States. Giammarco's wife, Sharon, has collected more than 3,000 signatures on a petition to officials seeking his return.

Giammarco was arrested by immigration officials in 2011 and was detained in a Massachusetts jail for 18 months before he was deported. His daughter visited him, but could not hug or touch him.

"I just wait for a day to hold my daughter again in the country that I love," he said.



Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments
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Incredible....
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December 08, 2013
Here is a guy that served int he US army was from Italy and they never acted on his citizenship from 1982 and he has turned his life around after some issues and they want to deport him yet we have illegals from all over that are here in this country and they want all the handouts and our government is giving them everything and they never served a day! This man is a Veteran from the United States Military! Our government has gone crazy and we need to shut them down NOW!
Dave P
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December 08, 2013
Please check this out, as a former ranger I have to agree with Scott. How wonderful our American life is!

http://www.milcentric.com/2012/11/03/what-it-means-to-be-free/
Dave P.
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December 08, 2013
Please check this out, as a former ranger I have to agree with Scott. How wonderful our American life is!

http://www.milcentric.com/2012/11/03/what-it-means-to-be-free/
Dave P.
|
December 08, 2013
Please check this out, as a former ranger I have to agree with Scott. How wonderful our American life is!

http://www.milcentric.com/2012/11/03/what-it-means-to-be-free/
Dave P.
|
December 08, 2013
Please check this out, as a former ranger I have to agree with Scott. How wonderful our American life is!

http://www.milcentric.com/2012/11/03/what-it-means-to-be-free/
lyntwo
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December 07, 2013
When I was in the US Army (69-72) a fellow soldier received induction orders from the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) Even though he was of Polish lineage.

He did not know that he was not a citizen of the United States, having been brought over as a baby.

The First Sergeant, after toying with him for a week about him needing to stay in the US Army to avoid deportation, pushed through the paperwork for him to become a citizen and so the fellow took the oath of citizenship and was naturalized.

The First Sergeant called in favors after he realized that the man, who was a combat veteran, was really of indeterminate citizenship, and could also be claimed as a citizen of Poland.

redfishbluefish
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December 07, 2013
Yet illegal Mexican gangbangers and there families are enticed over the wall. Our govt is messed up.
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