Deported Army veteran to return to U.S and become citizen

Matt Saintsing
March 30, 2018 - 2:08 pm

Photo by Xinhua/Sipa USA

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As one U.S. Army veteran was deported last week, another learned he'll return to the U.S. and become a naturalized citizen at a ceremony in San Diego, Calif., on April 13th. 

“Fourteen years, man” Hector Barajas said emotionally wearing his dress blue uniform and surrounded by supporters. “Oh my God, this is great. Hallelujah! Hallelujah!”

“I’m coming home, mom!” he said.

The Mexico-born American vet has waged a more than a decade-long fight to return to the U.S., where he lived since he was seven years old. Barajas, 40, founded the Deported Veterans Support House, an organization that provides housing and other services to deported vets in Tijuana, Mexico.

Barajas was honorably discharged from the Army in 2001, but struggled transitioning back to civilian life. In 2002, he took a plea deal after he was charged in shooting at an occupied vehicle. Because he was convicted, his green card was rescinded, and he was deported in 2014 after completing his prison sentence.

“God is showing me he continues to be in my life,” added Barajas.

Barajas is just one of more than 230 U.S. military veterans who’ve been deported, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. In 2016, more than 300,000 veterans were living in the U.S. who were not American born, with about a third not having citizenship—a benefit they were promised—when they joined.

Barajas struggled with substance abuse and his no-contest plea sealed his deportation fate in 2004. Since then, he’s been living in Mexico.

Last year, Barajas received a full pardon from California Gov. Jerry Brown. In a statement, Gov. Brown said Barajas “has shown that since his release from custody, he had lived an honest and upright life, exhibited good moral character and conducted himself as a law-abiding citizen.