The federal government’s failure to help naturalize immigrants serving in the U.S. military has led to the deportation of untold numbers of veterans, all of whom were entitled to become citizens because of their service, according to a report released by the ACLU of California. Three veterans who were deported to Mexico because of the crimes they committed could be allowed to return to the U.S. after California Governor Jerry Brown pardoned them. One is Hector Barajas, who came to the U.S. when he was 7 years old, and was a legal resident who joined the U.S. Army, serving from 1995 to 2001. After his military discharge, Barajas was arrested and pleaded guilty to illegally firing a gun into a vehicle. U.S. Immigration ordered Barajas be deported in 2004. He then came back across the border illegally, and was caught and sent back to Mexico. Barajas now runs a shelter for deported veterans in Tijuana known as “the bunker.” Brown’s pardon for Barajas-Varela and two othes is the first time a governor has taken this type action for deported veterans. It does not guarantee they will be able to come back to the United States, but Barajas hopes it will help with their appeals to U.S. federal immigration. These are not isolated cases. The worldwide community of deported veterans includes atr least 239 people in 34 countries, according to a report by the American Civil Liberties Union.
ZUMA Press Launches this week: zReportage: “Discharged And Discarded” Photography by © E. Peggy Peattie.