Ivan Ocon thought he would be headed back to civilian life as a U.S. citizen after serving the U.S. Army in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
Ocon, who was born in Mexico, came to the United States as a legal permanent resident in 1985 to reunite with his mother. He joined the Army in 1997, and his recruiter assured him that enlisting would make him a U.S. citizen.
When Ocon received orders of deployment to Iraq he was given a pre-deployment checklist to help him get his affairs in order. Confirming his immigration status wasn’t on that list, because citizenship is not required for overseas military service.