There is growing agreement that America’s War on Drugs and this country’s distorted immigration policies have been monumental failures. It it now seems Arnold Giammarco is a victim of both.
Giammarco is a U.S. Army veteran and a legal resident of the U.S. for more than 50 years. He is now stranded as a deportee in Italy, largely because of a single minor drug possession case in 2007.
His supporters gathered at a news conference at Yale Law School Tuesday, calling on federal authorities to move quickly on Giammarco’s application for U.S. citizenship – which was originally filed in 1982.
Giammarco, 57, was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in 2011, detained for 18 months, then sent to Italy in November 2012. He told the Associated Press that all he wants to do is return to his home and see his five-year-old daughter.
According to his record, Giammarco had two misdemeanor larceny convictions in 2007 and served three months in prison. He had a 2007 conviction for possession of cocaine, but was granted probation rather than incarceration.
“He was going through a rough time,” says Sung Jin, a Yale Law student who is working to help bring Giammarco back. Giammarco went through a divorce, was homeless for a time, and fought drug addiction.
Activists and politicians across the nation have been calling for major reforms in U.S. drug policies, pointing to the fact that the 40-year-long War on Drugs hasn’t cut drug abuse and has filled our prisons with people suffering from addictions.
Equally strong criticism has been leveled against the Obama Administration’s deportation of tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants, often for very minor crimes.
Giammarco’s is the second case to come to light recently of a U.S. military veteran from Connecticut being targeted for deportation for minor offenses in their past.
Clayton Richard Gordon of Bloomfield was arrested in June 2012 and is now fighting to have his deportation order cancelled or delayed. A legal immigrant who came to America from Jamaica in 1982, Gordon served in the U.S. Army.
His deportation order resulted from a 2008 conviction for possession of cocaine, an offense which resulted in one day in jail and three years of probation.