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Colorado Springs vet's new mission: return deported veterans to US

"In any wars, we don't leave anyone behind."

Colorado Springs vet-s new mission- return deported veterans to US

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - While President Trump works to tighten border security, one undocumented immigrant who served in the U.S Army is headed back to the United States.

 

His dream to return home wouldn't have been possible without help from another undocumented veteran who lives in Colorado Springs.

 

Manuel Valenzuela believes those who serve in the military shouldn't be deported. He could be deported any day but he’s hopeful he can stay in the country he fought for; after one of his comrades was granted citizenship.

Valenzuela is proud Marine Corps vet.

"I didn't think I’d ever wear this when I got back from Vietnam," Valenzuela said while holding his cover.

But after returning home from war, he soon realized his rescue missions weren't over. 

 
"Coming to find out that veterans were being deported, I put my uniform back on," he said.

Valenzuela is now an activist fighting for veterans facing deportation.

"In any wars, we don't leave anyone behind."

President Donald Trump made laws stricter when he took office, jeopardizing many undocumented U.S. service members, who have misdemeanors including Valenzuela and his brother, Valente.


"For our county to do that to us -- to break our oath, that we give and be in removal orders [and] be removed from a country that we did this for? This country has betrayed us. America has betrayed us, the soldiers,” said Valenzuela.

Valenzuela has been all over the country fighting for his comrades, one of them is Hector Barajas.


"I originally deported 14 years ago," Barajas said. Since then, he’s lived in Tijuana.

"Hector Barajas is coming home," Valenzuela exclaimed.

After California Gov. Jerry Brown pardoned Barajas for a crime, it was a happy homecoming.

Wednesday afternoon, I met with Valenzuela before he boarded his plane to San Diego to welcome Barajas home.

"I said, one of these days you're coming home and I promised him I was going to be there," said Valenzuela.

Hector Barajas crossed the Tijuana border Friday morning to become a U.S citizen.

“Ah! Wow! This is amazing! All I got to do is the swear-in ceremony and I’m finally home."

"This represents we are all brothers."

A promise, a mission to never leave a soldier behind came true.

Barajas is the first known deported veteran to be naturalized as a U.S Citizen. Over the years there's been legislation proposed to help bring deported veterans back but it hasn't gained enough support to pass.


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