Deported Veteran Coming Home
By Netzai Sanchez
Hector Barajas, a veteran of the United States Army, was granted a pardon and American citizenship after having been deported for 15 years.
Barajas served in the Army from 1995 through 2001 and was honorably discharged.
In 2002, Barajas was convicted of shooting at a vehicle with passengers, for which he was detained and deported, leaving behind the life he had built for over 20 years in the country he fought for.
The former U.S. serviceman took the time to talk to La Prensa San Diego about his upcoming readmission into the United States on April 13.
“I’m very happy to be given the opportunity to be going home to my family,” Barajas said. “I want to continue raising my daughter but it will take me about a year to adjust my life back in the U.S.”
Barajas shared that while he lived in Mexico he help out others facing similar experiences. He is the founder and director of the Deported Veterans Support House, a shelter in Tijuana which aids deported Veterans, DACA recipients and anyone else who is in need of aid outside of the U.S. The shelter started of in a small apartment where Barajas resided and over the years has turned into an official shelter.
“I plan on traveling back and forth, I am committed to the shelter and don’t plan on leaving until I know it’s in good hands. We have people in mind that can take over my position but until I am completely sure I will remain in charge,” Barajas stated.
“We have received, since 2013, over 45 veterans,” he continued. “Not only do we give then food and shelter, we help them with legal documents, show them how the healthcare system works, and with job placement.”
The Deported Veterans Support House is a civil association and relies on donations from several individuals and different organizations. This shelter began in Barajas’ apartment but now has offices and enough space for more guests.
Last December, California Governor Jerry Brown’s office also granted Marine veteran Marco Chavez a pardon and the ability to return back home in December after having been deported for 15 years.
According to Barajas, organizations that fight for the rights of deported veterans still have their hands full with over 300 cases of men and women from over 42 countries and more needs to be done by U.S. authorities to bring these veterans back to the country they served.
“(Authorities) are now doing a better job on making sure that more people are being naturalized, but they still need a program to follow up with them to get the process completed when they are serving in the military,” Barajas concluded.
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