[Ed. – Makes citizenship a dirty word.]
Hector Barajas was convicted of shooting at a vehicle in 2002 and was deported back to Mexico. He quickly sneaked back into the U.S. and was caught and deported again. He then started a support group for fellow veterans deported to Mexico, worked to get them health care — and, last year, earned a pardon from California Gov. Jerry Brown for his crime.
On Friday, he will cross the border once again and arrive in San Diego, where he will be sworn in as a U.S. citizen.
To his backers, it’s a long-overdue recognition for a man who has devoted years of his life to his adopted country, has made bad decisions but redeemed himself and now deserves the right to join American society.
They hope he has blazed a path other people — and particularly veterans — might be able to follow, winning pardons to halt their deportations or even earn the right to come back.
“Hector’s case is in many ways a classic example how draconian our immigration laws have become,” said Bardis Vakili, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union in San Diego, which went to court to force the citizenship issue earlier this year.