LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A US military veteran who was deported to Mexico has become a US citizen 14 years after he was kicked out of the country.
Hector Barajas-Varela was expelled from the country after serving more than one year in prison for shooting at an occupied home. He founded the Deported Veterans Support House in Tijuana to help deportees adjust to life there and has advocated to allow deported veterans to return to the United States.
“Regardless of what these men and women have done,” he said, “they shouldn’t be deported. It’s morally wrong.”
Barajas was pardoned last year by California Gov. Jerry Brown.
“I’m very humbled,” Barajas said in a video he posted on his Facebook page after the pardon. “There are days when I feel like giving up, but it’s because of things like these … that I still believe, that I still have faith that eventually we will go home.”
The highly decorated paratrooper came home Friday, 14 years after his deportation. Barajas took the oath of citizenship at a government office in San Diego.
He said, “I’ve gotten to live the American dream for a second time.”
Barajas also profusely apologized Friday because he said his actions led to his troubles — and caused him to miss many moments in his daughter’s childhood. He was convicted in 2004 for shooting at an occupied vehicle.
“I had a life before deportation,” he said. “But I thought I was never coming home.”
KCAL9’s Cristy Fajardo spoke to Barajas as he was reunited with his family, where he said he planned to fill up on his mom’s enchiladas as well as spending time with his 11-year-old daughter.
And Monday a first. He will get to take his daughter to school.