A home in Tijuana is a refuge for deported U.S. veterans

A home in Tijuana is a refuge for deported U.S. veterans

Sep 25, 2017

They call it the bunker.

From the street in this working-class neighborhood, people passing by the two-story house can look through the window and glimpse a peace sign and various iterations of the Stars and Stripes.

The formal name is emblazoned in English on a banner above the entrance: “Deported Veterans Support House.”

It’s a meeting venue, crash pad, information hub and hangout for a distinct group: U.S. military veterans expelled from the very country they served.

Most came to the United States as children and became permanent legal residents before joining the military. But after returning to civilian life they committed crimes that led to deportation.

Advocates for immigrants say there may be thousands of deported veterans now scattered across the globe.

Hector Barajas, who founded the support house four years ago, has identified 350 deported U.S. veterans born in more than 30 countries, including India, Italy, Mexico and the nations of Central America. Scores have passed through the support house.

The veterans there speak English like Americans, reminisce about school days back in the United States, watch U.S. sports on television and share war stories. Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July are big holidays for them.

All have families in the United States. Many veterans carry wallet-sized snapshots of sons, daughters, siblings and grandchildren from whom they are now separated.

Still, the vibe at the house is not self-pity or regret, but repentance for missteps and a quest for redemption.

The veterans are well aware that there is little sympathy in the U.S. for ex-convicts. But they argue that they have done their time, paid their debts to society, and are now serving what amounts to life sentences — permanent banishment from the country they regard as home.

Click here for full article on the LA Times

Source: http://www.latimes.com/

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