The U.S. government will allow a veteran who was deported to Mexico to come back into the county and become a citizen, according to multiple news sources.
Hector Barajas, a former Army paratrooper who honorably served between 1995 and 2001, crossed the southern border as a seven-year-old and eventually settled in the neighborhood of Compton, CA. During his time as a member of the 82nd Airborne Division, he also received military accolades.
“Thank you Jesus !! CITIZENSHIP GRANTED!! ALL AMERICAN AFTER 14 YEARS. DEPORTED IN 2004,” Barajas wrote next to a Facebook video broadcasting his announcement in Spanish.
Police arrested Barajas in 2002 after he shot at a vehicle. He served two years in prison before being deported in 2004. He eventually re-entered the country, but the U.S. government deported him again in 2010 after he stopped for a traffic infraction.
Since his deportation, Barajas founded the Deported Veterans Support House in Tijuana, Mexico to help with the transition process for other deported veterans.
On Thursday, his lawyers said the U.S. government would allow Barajas to attend a naturalization ceremony next month in San Diego on April 13.
In a separate Facebook video in English, Barajas thanked his supporters, including California Gov. Jerry Brown (D), whose pardon of his criminal offense cited his work in Mexico with other deported veterans.
Once Barajas returns, he hopes to “find a job and go to school in Los Angeles, while supporting his 11-year-old daughter and her mother,” the Associated Press reported.
Barajas is the second deported veteran who will be allowed back into the United States thanks to a pardon from Brown, according to the ACLU. The other is Marine veteran Marco Chavez, who was deported after serving a prison sentence for animal cruelty. Chavez was able to return last December.
Though Barajas and Chavez received good news about their deportation cases, there are likely thousands of other U.S. military veterans who have been deported to other countries. Unlike Barajas, those people may not have the advocacy of congressional lawmakers, the American Civil Liberties Union, and a Democratic governor. However, honorably discharged veterans — even deported ones — are entitled to come back to the country when they die. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, they receive a military funeral with full military honors. The VA will pay $300 towards the cost of bringing the body into the United States.