UPDATE: Deported veteran Marcelino Ramos has returned to the U.S. after living in Juarez for the past six years.
EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — For the past six years, Marine veteran Marcelino Ramos has been living in Ciudad Juarez along with more than 25 other deported veterans.
They are just some of the hundreds of Mexican-born veterans who have been deported or face deportation after committing a crime.
“When you go through (being in the) Marine Corps, of course, you think you’re an American citizen automatically, so I thought along with the other deported veterans,” Ramos said.
Ramos is a veteran who joined the Marines when he was 17. He was deported six years ago after serving time in jail for a felony and has been living in Ciudad Juarez since.
“Here I am being deported by the country I served, proudly served actually,” Ramos said.
This Veterans Day will be different for Ramos.
Following Ramos’s interview with KTSM 9 News, he learned that he would be allowed back into the U.S. on Monday, Nov. 7.
Ramos planning to cross the bridge to El Paso on Monday just as a veteran who was deported 28 years ago was able to come back to the U.S. a few weeks back.
“We deserve to be back in El Paso, back in the United States,” said Gerardo Sotelo Pinales, a deported veteran who returned to the U.S. last month.
The managing director of the organization All Relations United in Las Cruces worked to bring Sotelo back, with help from American Veterans First in El Paso.
“Gerardo, he’s been deported for 28 years, a Navy veteran he was living in a homeless shelter in Juarez,” said Lorelei Horse Stands Waiting, the managing director of All Relations United.
She explains what she has seen over the years working with deported veterans.
“They don’t have any paperwork and if they get into any trouble with the law, usually it’s a DWI or a drug offense, because our veterans, a lot of them come back, especially from combat, with PTSD. Then they’re deported because they’re not a citizen and once they’re reported it can take them years to get back,” said Horse Stands Waiting.
Currently, there is a Veteran Deportation Prevention and Reform Act pending in Congress, but Horse Stands Waiting says there needs to be action. Also, the Biden administration began an effort to help deported veterans and their families.
“A lot of promises are made but we need to see action,” she said.
Another organization working with deported veterans is American Veterans First in El Paso.
“They’re just running the streets, with no money, no family members over there and many of them don’t even speak Spanish so we need to bring these veterans home,” said Rudy Molina, the director of American Veterans First.
Meanwhile, a U.S. Navy veteran and former U.S. Customs and Border Protections Officer Raul Rodriguez is facing deportation. However, he says his whole life he believed he was a U.S. Citizen.
“I do feel betrayed. I do feel that they let me down because I give it my all. I was no questions asked and now they just turned their back on me,” he said.
After serving in the Navy and working for CBP for over 20 years, Rodriguez learned he wasn’t a U.S. citizen after all.
“My aunt and my mother, at that time found out about this midwife, she was registering babies frequently for a fee, and that fee was $50. They spent $50 for my birth certificate,” Rodriguez said.
He was fired from CBP and awaits his court date but says if he’s deported, he plans to live somewhere other than the border in Mexico. He says cartels know about him because of his years as a CBP officer.
“It would be a death sentence for me to go here locally, because as soon as I would get there, they would probably start talking or mentioning or saying stuff that I’m around and who I am and what I did and pick me up and probably kill me,” Rodriguez said.