Meet Hector Barajas. He moved to the United States at 7-years-old and through his parents he was able to get a green card. With his green card, he was able to enlist into the Army after years of dreaming to be a U.S soldier. He served in the 82nd Airborne Division for the U.S Army from 1995 to 2001. Like many of the military men, he suffered from alcohol and drug abuse which sadly led him to making bad decisions. When he returned to his hometown of Compton, California, he was arrested for firing a gun. No one in the scene was hurt, but he was still sentenced to two years in jail. After his time in jail, he thought he would return back to adjusting to the regular civilian life. Unfortunately, he was caught by surprise when he was told he would possibly be put on immigration hold.
Barajas stated how “citizenship was never mentioned” during the process. “I was never counseled, nothing. There were no programs for it.”
The military provides assistance to Green Card holders who are interested in obtaining citizenship. It is entirely up to the serving men to reach out for this kind of help at the Legal Assistance offices. Assistance is also available from the United States Customs and Immigration Service with offices on most of the Military Initial Training Sites.
However, most veterans coming from foreign countries are unaware of these services, including Barajas who says, "I was under the assumption that I took oath and that I'm a U.S. citizen."
“We did what most Americans won’t do and put our life on the line. I think it’s unjust that we’re deporting American veterans. Why not change those laws?”
“Deported Veterans Support House’ or more commonly called, “The Bunker”, is the shelter that he formed in 2013. The shelter is a cramped two-story apartment, decorated with military posters and patriotic pride, where men in the same position as Barajas come together. He works individually with these men, designing a plan to help them return to the U.S. Barajas gives these men all the help they need, whether it is therapy or finding a job, he cares for these veterans.
“In the military we have a motto leaving no men behind, support our troops, honor our veterans. But we’re not honoring our veterans by deporting them. It should be more than a sticker on the back of your car.”
The fact of the matter is these men served this country. The only thing standing in their way of living in the country they would die for is a document of citizenship which they should’ve earned the day they swore under oath. The death of an immigrant veteran is the only legal way for them to return to the U.S, which is highly unfair. Immigrants who have proudly served for the United States date back to the Vietnam War. The ongoing situation of deporting veterans must come to a complete end. We cannot keep using these men for rifles and tossing them back to their homeland once their time is up. Truthfully their homeland is here, in the country they find a sense of comfort nowhere else. It’s time to bring back the veterans from The Bunker, and the rest of the world, back home.