U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham will be among the Democrats travelling this weekend to Mexico to meet with military veterans who were recently deported from the United States.
The veterans are among the noncitizens who served in the United States armed forces. They are currently staying at the Deported Veterans Support House in Tijuana, Mexico and the members of Congress will meet with them this Saturday.
While the veterans fulfilled their military service, they did not finish the expedited citizenship application process made available to noncitizens who serve in the United States armed forces.
There are currently 10,644 noncitizens serving in the United States Armed Forces, and about 608,000 living veterans who were born in foreign countries.
Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union reported more than 230 veterans have been deported.
One of those is Hector Barajas, a former U.S. Army paratrooper. Barajas was convicted of a felony charge of firing a gun into a car, and served two years in prison. Barajas was deported to Mexico afterward and launched the Deported Veterans Support House in Tijuana.
The members of Congress will meet Barajas and others at support house, which is known as “The Bunker.”
U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, is leading the delegation along with Lujan Grisham and five other members of Congress. Castro is the First Vice Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Lujan Grisham is the Chair of the group, which is made up of Democratic Hispanic members.
One name that frequently comes up is Marine Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez, who was one of the first members of the U.S. Marine Corps to be killed in 2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Gutierrez was a permanent U.S. resident, but not a citizen. Gutierrez arrived in the United States illegally at age 14 but was able to stay because the United States did not deport Guatemalan minors who arrived without parents. Both of Gutierrez’s parents died before he arrived in the United States.