We have always been willing to die for our country, the United States; now we have the opportunity to live in it, former deported military officer Alex Murillo told La Opinion.
Murillo spoke at a meeting of about twenty veterans deported to Tijuana to celebrate July 4 and that the administration of President Joe Biden and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) are analyzing the return of soldiers and family members of military men expelled from the country.
“It is what we have fought so hard for, what we hoped for; This shows that the American dream has not died, that if we keep fighting, we will achieve it ”, declared Murillo.
Robert Vivar, coordinator of Deported Veterans United, explained that all ex-soldiers expelled deserve to return, but Murillo arrived with his parents from the Mexican state of Sonora to Arizona when he was just a baby, still without learning to walk.
He grew up in Phoenix as an American and when he finished high school, Murillo joined the Army and worked as an aviation mechanic, a position that took him to the forefront several times, until he was honorably discharged in 2000.
But after being in the military, he suffered from post-traumatic stress and, among other remedies, decided to consume marijuana. In 2009 he was arrested with a small amount of marijuana and, although Arizona approved the medical use of marijuana in late 2010, Murillo was deported to Tijuana in 2011.
Now in Arizona marijuana can be used for any reason. It is a similar story, almost ironic, to those of many veterans deported to Mexico, according to Robert Vivar.
In Baja California there are cases of deported veterans who bravely offered the possibility of losing their lives, and who were deported for not having a license while driving or because at some point in the past in their life they were arrested with alcoholic breath. The departments of Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs announced an initiative over the weekend to return deported veterans to the country.
The American Civil Liberties Union reported that there are hundreds, perhaps ex- military personnel, who, “during the last 25 years, have been unjustly deported and exiled from the United States.” The initiative also seeks “that the soldiers who serve our nation can obtain the promised naturalization.”
A veteran of the war in Vietnam who for years has supported the military deported to Baja California, George Johnson, lamented that he will no longer be able to return to the United States “at least a dozen veterans who were deported to Tijuana and have died while waiting return”.
“We must remember that until now the only way that veterans who offered their lives for the United States and could return to their country, for which they fought, was inside coffins,” said the representative of Veterans for Peace.
“We just buried the most recent of our deceased brothers in Baja California a couple of weeks ago,” he said sadly. A leader of the deported veterans in Tijuana, Héctor López, congratulated himself that soon the veterans will no longer have to return home in this way.
“I knew that this day would come. Today the United States government recognizes us as members of the United States armed forces, ”he said. The leader explained that “we are Americans; Yes, we were born in Mexico but we are the United States military and we want to be at home, this is not our home ”.
“We are Americans, although we were born in Mexico; In any case, we are Mexican-Americans, and they shouldn’t have deported us to begin with, ”said Marine veteran Richard Avila. “We do our duty, we serve our country, we love the United States of America; they should think of us as an immigrant group that loves the country like, for example, DACA recipients, ”the soldier explained.
The twenty soldiers gathered in Playas de Tijuana declared that they celebrated the 4th of July: “we celebrate the independence of our homeland” just a few meters from the demarcation where California begins. Rubén Robles, who volunteered to go to war in Vietnam, has been deported in Tijuana 23 years ago, he has survived with countless jobs, as he could.
“I am happy to be able to return, but I would only be interested in crossing the border for health services,” Robles Said. As he was deported for attempted robbery, “I would not like to cross to live under surveillance, and, on the other hand, with what I receive from my pension as a veteran – about $ 1,000 dollars a month – I could not live in California, it would be impossible” he commented.
He said that living in Tijuana has been difficult but at least he has some good friends and his pension has been enough lately to live modestly.