Does honorable service earn noncitizen vets a 2nd chance to call US home?
Stars and Stripes | .
published: July 22, 2016
TIJUANA, Mexico — On a Thursday morning in early June in this border town, 82nd Airborne veteran Hector Barajas-Varela donned his maroon beret, tucked his pants into his Corcoran jump boots — with an apology that they weren’t spit-shined — and steeled his nerves.
The 39-year-old grabbed his cane, locked the glass doors of the small shelter he runs for deported veterans and headed to the border to meet with a U.S. Customs and Immigrations Services official for fingerprinting.
This is a big deal for Barajas-Varela, who was deported permanently from the United States in 2009.
Born in Mexico, he came to the U.S. when he was 7 and grew up in a rough, racially tense southern California neighborhood. When he was old enough, he joined the Army, which made him eligible for citizenship.