WASHINGTON, D.C. — Hector Barajas-Varela, a deported U.S. Army veteran who has been living in Mexico for the past 14 years, is being sworn in as a United States citizen today.
Barajas-Varela, director and founder of the Deported Veterans Support House in Tijuana, is the second known deported veteran then to be naturalized as a U.S. citizen because of his honorable wartime service.
“Deported immigrant veterans are patriots who have served this great nation,” Barajas-Varela said. “I’m excited most of all to be able to return to my family and be a father to my little girl. That’s the most important thing.”
“I am pleased to see Hector’s naturalization application approved after all these years. I hope to see many similar stories for other deported veterans,” said Lt. Col. Margaret Stock, U.S. Army Reserve (Ret.) and Veterans for New Americans National Co-Chair. “Congress should take swift action to stop the deportations of honorably discharged military veterans. Congress should also reverse DOD’s recent efforts to obstruct and delay the naturalizations of honorably serving military members. Military members serving honorably should be naturalized immediately while serving, not after they have been deported.”
“As Veterans for New Americans, we value and salute the service of all immigrant veterans who have served our armed forces and nation with honor. We must continue to support immigrant service members by providing an efficient pathway to citizenship as part of their service to our nation,” said Rear Adm. Jim Partington, U.S. Navy (Ret.) and Veterans for New Americans National Co-Chair. “It is our honor to welcome Spc. Hector Barajas, U.S. Army veteran, back home and congratulate him on his long journey in becoming a fellow American.”
“As a veteran, I am fully committed to the concept that we bring everyone home. That includes our deported veterans,” said Nathan Fletcher, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran and Founder of Honorably Discharged, Dishonorably Deported. “While we see so many tragic cases of immigrant families being torn apart, today we took a positive step in the other direction by bringing home Hector Barajas, an immigrant who fought to defend his adopted nation and who never should have been deported in the first place. No immigrant who served honorably in the U.S. military and earned American citizenship should ever be deported.”
“Hector’s naturalization should be the rule and not the exception for deported veterans who have been let down by the country they risked their lives for,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “Immigrants who serve and defend the nation they call home should be celebrated and supported with a streamlined path to citizenship.
“We congratulate Hector on receiving his long-overdue citizenship, and hope to see other deported veterans receive the opportunity to come home.”