Rep. Juan Vargas and six other members of congress met with deported veterans and their families in Tijuana Saturday to raise awareness on the issue.
“It was heartbreaking again to listen to the stories,” Vargas said in a press conference. “If all Americans knew about this they would be outraged.”
Rep. Vargas introduced a Deported Veterans Bill Package a week ago that would prevent veterans from being deported and help those who have been deported get access to medical care.
"The law has to change because this is a great injustice,” Vargas said. “If you’re a person from another country and you commit this crime, you get deported. They made no exception for veterans."
Hector Barajas served nearly six years in the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division before he was honorably discharged. In 2004, he was deported to Mexico after serving a prison sentence for firing a gun inside his car.
"I became more of a patriot ever since I got deported. They [veterans] did commit crimes, including myself, but that does not make me less American," said Barajas.
Barajas now runs the Deported Veterans Support House in Tijuana where the congressmen met Saturday.
"[I] saw families united," Vargas said. "I’ve never seen them together. For me that was quite moving. I’ve seen them individually, but to see them together that’s the way they want to live. They want to live as a family."
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service does offer a pathway for veteran immigrants to receive legal citizenship. They need to apply and the National Benefits Center reviews each case.
"This is an opportunity for Donald Trump to do something right,” Vargas said. “So much has been going wrong in our country. This is an opportunity for him to do something right.”