November 11th, 2011
The Story Of One Deported Latino Veteran

Immigrants have served in the United States armed forces since the Revolutionary War, and one veteran we spoke to noted that, being an immigrant sometimes makes things a little bit more complicated. Hector Barajas served with the 82nd Airborne as a paratrooper, but now lives in Mexico, where he was deported a few years ago after he was deported.

Barajas doesn’t make excuses for the actions that led to his deportation, but working with the group Banished Veterans, he and other deported veterans lobby to try to find a way to come back home — the U.S. He told NewsTaco his story.

Barajas’ story goes like this. He came to the U.S. when he was 5 or 6, grew up in Compton and joined the military right after high school, in 1995. He never became a citizen. One day he came home from Fort Bliss outside El Paso to visit his family in Compton; at the time he was in a military alcohol rehabilitation program, he was driving under the influence with some friends. One of them in the backseat thought he was being followed and shot a gun at the car behind them.

“Nobody got hurt,” Barajas told us. He pleaded guilty to the discharge of a firearm and was sentenced to three years in a California state prison. After Barajas said a bad lawyer fumbled his case, he found himself with a deportation hold about two years into his sentence.

Barajas meant to become a citizen, he started the application, but never followed up. He was eventually flown from California to Arizona, where he said he felt like he was in limbo. While in immigration custody he said he felt like he was “being considered an illegal immigrant. I never thought of myself as being an illegal immigrant.” Especially since, as a soldier, he was always attending ceremonies and exercises where his patriotism was praised.

“I was good enough to fight for the country, but all of a sudden, you’re disposable,” he said.

Nine months passed in the Arizona detention facility. One day, in the middle of the night, he was dropped off in Nogales, Sonora. He spent some time in Zacatecas with his grandparents, then tried to come home, was deported again, and has since been trying to find legal recourse to come home to Los Angeles to be with his parents and daughter.  He currently works as a caregiver for the elderly in Rosarito, Baja California.

Banished Veterans has been a beacon of hope for him, he told us, about a dozen people work with the group. His dream for the group is to open up different chapters to help other veterans who find themselves in a similar situation. And while he takes responsibility for his actions, he longs to come back to the U.S., for a very simple reason.

“Why do I want to come back? I’m an American,” he told NewsTaco. “There are a lot of Americans that won’t put on a uniform to defend the country, to do what we did.”

[Courtesy Photo]

4 thoughts on “The Story Of One Deported Latino Veteran

  1. Curious, John John. Wasnt it Bush who championed the military to citizen oath? Just asking.
    There are so many things wrong with this. First off, now that this needed to be told story is out there, the military branches could begging a brown hunt, tge fact that this man wasn’t vetted before he went into the airforce is interesting. Immigrants are ok as long as they are willing to be cannon fodder.
    Next, he committed no felonious crimes. And he went to prison, paid his dues.

    What enrages me the most is that he, along with thousands of other men, women and children are kept in private for-profit prisons for month after month, many over a year, with no legal recourse. The private prison industry drains the state and federal coffers at $90 or more a day for each person it holds in its grips. This should get your goat, John John. Probably not though.

    And repeating here, THISMAN SERVED IN THE F***ING MILITARY. Have you, Jihn John, or do you just breathe the air of freedom that this man fought for ?

    Shameon you and Shane on America for allowing these things.

  2. i would like to know why hispanic illegal immigrants think this country owes them special treatment ?. first off the  pillar of society in the above sod story was in rehab at the time , hes out on the highway with friends driving drunk and shooting at another vehicle. then he decides hes an american and smuggles himself back in only to get captured. the way i see this guy has 3 felonies attached to his name
    2.shooting a gun at someone
    3. captured re-entering after deportation
    our country has enough issues with the illegals who have been able to avoided capture so far and im sure we will find a way for them to atone for their crimes but using this guys story to forward an amnesty has got to be by far the most stupidist example.

  3. If you think Obama won’t do anything for latino’s and immigration,,plz, don’t think the Republican party will do any better.  They are presently scrambling to eliminate each other at the moment. Once they narrow it down then thats when the wolf in sheeps clothing will come along and make the promises. We are strong in numbers,yes. But a threat, well  thats only if we ever get up out of our homes to vote. Inspite all the grass root efforts with “getting out the slogans and stickers” we still fall short. My neighborhood had van after van,w/some voters and senior citizen  pickup and drop off efforts and still missed the count of votes. And still Gov.Perry was elected, again. We heard his speeches assurring all that Texas was in good shape and we had no defecit and plenty of money for Texans and education.. Ha, it was his one party member who discovered the 2nd set of books and made it public that we not only didn’t have money ,,we were indebt for the next 8-10 yrs. Now he wants to run our country,. Amazing what oil cronies can do., he was after all, Bush’s choice and good friend and who appointed him for Governor of Texas when he ran and won his Pres.election..

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