The Biden Administration committed to conducting a review of veterans’ policies and practices, in addition to individual cases.
Dozens of war veterans of the United States of Mexican origin deported to Ciudad Juárez recover the hope of returning to the country they served in war after the last words of the White House, which has promised to review the cases.
José Francisco López, director of the Deported Veterans Support House in this border municipality, narrates that he was in the Vietnam War in 1968 (1955-1975) and faced the dangers of being in the fight defending this world power.
López was deported to Mexico 18 years ago for a minor offense: “I used marijuana and later cocaine. On one occasion when I was going to buy drugs, a policeman pretended to be the seller and for that, they arrested me and then brought me to Mexico. I only came with a shirt and pants, “he said this Friday.
Beginning in 1996, with changes to the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) —which changed immigration laws and eliminated important defenses against deportation— the United States began expelling war veterans who were residents and had fought in warlike conflicts such as Vietnam, the Gulf wars, Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan, among others.
Large numbers of deportees, who came to the United States as children or very young, had to abandon their families in the United States and return to a country they barely knew.
But after years of complaints, now this situation could change with the arrival of Joe Biden to the White House, with a less restrictive immigration policy.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is working with the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other partners to identify deported veterans and ensure they obtain benefits to which they may be entitled, as explained in the past 2 July DHS in a statement.
Alejandro Mayorkas, head of the DHS, ordered: “an immediate review of policies and practices to ensure that all former non-citizen service members and immediate families of members of the Army can remain or return to the United States.”
And he called for “removing barriers to naturalization for those eligible and improving access to immigration services.”
Hope in Biden
For López, Biden is sensitive in his immigration policies and with war veterans.
” I want to see my family, my family is very happy, I am very enthusiastic about this news and I wish the medical services of the United States that are for ex-soldiers,” he declared.
And he remembers the war that he had to live in the American uniform: “What struck me the most in the Vietnam War was seeing the piles of destroyed dead, women and children bombed. And I was thinking of my family. It was very hot and it rained every day ”.
Another example is that of Iván Ocón, also in charge of this veterans’ home in Ciudad Juárez, who was deported to Mexico in 2016 after serving in Iraq in 2003.
“With the previous administration (of Donald Trump) there was no progress, but with this news that they are going to return us, there is the hope of reuniting with our families. I have a young woman that I haven’t seen for 15 years ”, he said.
“I served the country and I thought that they could not deport me and when suddenly they tell me that my services do not work and that I have good luck in Mexico … that is like a knife in the chest,” added this man, who buried “brother soldiers ”And he still remembers the experience with pain.
After years of deportations, these are just two stories of the tens, perhaps hundreds or thousands, of deported veterans of Mexican origin and other nationalities.
And while the exact amount is unknown, recent announcements by Biden and his administration have raised hopes for many.