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Deported Veterans Support House – Hector Barajas

 

Hector Barajas grew up in the Los Angeles as a lawful permanent resident noncitizen in the United States.  In 1995, Barajas enlisted in the Army.  During his service he won numerous awards including the Army Commendation Medal and Humanitarian Service Medal. He was honorably discharged in 2001. 

In 2010, Barajas who was still a noncitizen was deported to Mexico after he had served a sentence for a crime in 2002.  In Mexico, Barajas established the Deported Veterans Support House in Tijuana to offer help to other veterans who’ve been deported.

With significant effort, Barajas was able to gain United States citizenship from Mexico.  Today, Barajas still runs the Deported Veterans Support House while he works in the United States.  Barajas is also featured in a documentary, Ready for War, which highlights the struggles of deported veterans.    Barajas also heavily advocated for deported veterans, leading to the launch for the Biden administration’s Immigrant Military Members and Veterans Initiative in 2021.  The program works to make Veterans Administration benefits more accessible for non-US citizen veterans, and to help more deported veterans return to the US if they were deported.  The program also works to lessen the number of deported veterans

KBCS’s Mari McMenamin, Dana Schuerholz and Yuko Kodama interviewed Hector Barajas at the Deported Veterans support house in Tijuana, Mexico in 2019.

Producers: Mari McMenamin, Dana Schuerholz, Jesse Callahan and Yuko Kodama.  Special thanks to Magdaleno Rose-Avila for inspiring us to take on this story.

Photos: Dana Schuerholz

 

Deported Veterans Support House and Dreamers Moms Offices

Deported Veterans Support House kitchen

Hector Barajas with photo of his grandfather

Border wall portion painted with names of deported veterans