Military veteran fighting deportation

March 9, 2011 3:19:59 PM PST
A military veteran who immigrated to the country is pleading to stay in the United States.

He served in the U.S. Army and was a medic in Kosovo 20 years ago.

Now the U.S. government is trying to deport him because he served in the military during peacetime.

"I was a medic. I took care of a lot of fallen soldiers and now I can't take care of myself or my family," said Ramdeo Chankarsingh, an Army veteran.

Ramdeo Chankarsingh served his country for eight years as an army medic.

He did tours of duty in Italy, Germany, and Kosovo.

Now, 11 years later, he still takes medication for back spasms he suffered during his service.

The only thing he's asked in return: to become a U.S. citizen.

"It's hard when you serve a country and you think they'll take care of your family. I came here to be an American citizen," Chankarsingh said.

Ramdeo and his wife, Savitri, have tried to cut through the red tape for more than a decade.

It cost the South Ozone Park, Queens family more than $60,000 and countless time.

Now, immigration and customs enforcement wants to deport the father of two.

"My husband has been here for more than 30 years. This is all he knows. He's never gotten into any trouble with the law. Never committed any crimes," Savitri Chankarsingh said.

"There's a terrible glitch in the system," Edward Daniels, a veterans advocate said, "Mr. Singh has an honorary discharge. It entitled him to citizenship. No if ands or butts about it."

Chankarsingh came to the U.S. illegally as a teenager and worked in Florida orange fields.

He got a temporary green card through an amnesty program.

The former medic enlisted with the promise he would become a citizen.

Right now, Senator Charles Schumer's office is working on clearing up the apparent mix up.

Later this month, Mr. Chankarsingh will make his case in front of an immigration judge.

"It would be hard to leave, both children are U.S. citizens. This is all they know this is all we know," said Savitri Chankarsingh, "In his heart he's an American citizen. It's just paperwork."