12 Jul Deported Veteran Returns to US After Struggling to Attain US Citizenship for 9 Years
After almost a decade of an ongoing lawsuit, US Marine Corps Veteran Hector Ocegueda will finally return home after being deported for a minor crime in 2012.
The 53-year-old Veteran Ocegueda was convicted for driving under the influence of drugs and was deported to Mexico. For almost a decade, he has been struggling to attain US citizenship so that he can be with his children and family.
According to US law, a non-citizen Veteran discharged from the service honorably is eligible to attain US citizenship if they can meet some eligibility conditions.
In Mexico, Ocegueda came in contact with a group of deported Veterans and applied to attain US citizenship. He was scheduled for an interview last year but was denied citizenship due to his deportation order.
As a result, Ocegueda sued the US officials for violating his rights and demanded an interview that could allow him to pass the borders safely and be with his family in Southern California.
A US Citizenship and Immigration Services officer finally took his interview on Thursday and is scheduled to take the Citizenship oath in Los Angeles.
Before attending the oath ceremony with his sisters and family, he said, “I know the system is not perfect. I am mad at the system — but not at this country. I love this country.”
The case highlights the initiatives taken by Biden Administration to reach out to non-citizen Veterans and ensure that they are able to access their military benefits.
According to a 2016 report issued by The American Civil Liberties Union, most of the non-citizen Vets who were deported to their birth countries were convicted of minor crimes.
Ocegueda was brought to the US by his parents when he was just a child. He served in the Marine Corps from 1987 to 1991, married and had two daughters until he was deported.
And, though he was finally able to attain US citizenship, it came with a price. He was sent to a country which he had left when he was just a child. Post deportation, his marriage suffered, and he ended up being divorced. He also missed out on time with his daughters.