Deported veterans salute the flag in viral Veterans Day photo

They served hoping to gain citizenship.

This Veterans Day weekend, Herika Martinez of the Agence France-Presse news agency snapped a photo of veterans saluting the U.S. flag — in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

The men pictured in the photo are protesting the fact that they served in the U.S. military in hopes of being approved for citizenship, but were denied and deported back to their country of origin.

There are currently 230 people who’ve served in the U.S. military but were ultimately denied citizenship.

As points out, the U.S. is actively deporting veterans. “It may come as a surprise to learn that serving in the United States military does not automatically confer citizenship, but it doesn’t,” Snopes’ Brooke Binkoswki writes. “It can smooth the way, provided the aspiring citizen is aware of what they need to do in order to apply for citizenship and gets it done within a certain timeframe. However, it’s not uncommon for enlistees to wrongly assume (having never been told otherwise) they have done all they need to do in order to be awarded citizenship, and thus all they have to do after their honorable discharge is wait.”

Either way, the phenomenon strikes to the core of the immigration issue: Americans grossly undervalue immigrants in this country. Not only are they willing to do the work many Americans won’t, they’re also willing to fight and die in our wars.

Tragically, death is one way deported vets can return to the U.S. The law allows all honorably discharged military veterans to be buried in a national cemetery.

The photo has been shared hundreds of thousands of times across Twitter.

Featured image via Twitter screen grab

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