SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — The people who run the U.S. Deported Veterans Resource Center in Tijuana believe there are at least 1,000 military deportees living in some 40 countries, with at least several dozen in their backyard in the Mexican state of Baja California.
On Wednesday morning, some of them were allowed to return to the U.S. if only for a brief period of time.
They were given permission to cross the border through the San Ysidro Port of Entry so they could get their COVID-19 vaccinations.
“Very happy to finally, finally be getting a chance to be back home,” said deported veteran Alex Murillo.
Murillo, who served in the Gulf War, was deported nine years ago after serving three years in prison for marijuana possession.
He knew his stay would be short, but he welcomed the opportunity.
“Even for the short time that we’re going to get across it’s very important for us. I’m excited, I want to get my vaccine, it’s one of our first steps in our citizenship process.”
Miguel Hernandez, a U.S. Army and Vietnam War veteran, stated this is long overdue.
“The United States should take care of us not Mexico, Mexico has nothing to do with us, it’s the United States that’s supposed to take care of us,” Hernandez said.
The veterans are part of the Deported Veterans Resource Center in Tijuana run by Robert Vivar.
“They are no longer forgotten, they are being counted and they are being taken into consideration,” said Vivar. “The opportunity to enter the United States even for a few minutes, touch the soil of the country they were willing to die for through their military service is very emotional for them.”
The Veterans Administration organized the multi-agency effort. U.S. Rep. Juan Vargas, D-California, was also part of it.
“While this medical need is clear, we will continue advocating for our veterans living abroad,” said Vargas who represents California’s 51st District. “I hope to continue working with Rep. Mark Takano, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, to provide necessary health-related resources for all who have dutifully served our nation.”