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SAN DIEGO — A decorated former U.S. Army paratrooper whose work on behalf of deported veterans drew widespread attention to his cause became a U.S. citizen Friday, giving immigration advocates a rare reason to celebrate.

Hector Barajas, who was deported to Mexico in 2010, beamed after taking his citizenship oath in a small, private ceremony at a government office in San Diego in full military uniform.

“I get to live the American Dream for a second time,” he said, holding a small American flag in his hand at a jubilant news conference.

Barajas founded the Deported Veterans Support Home in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, providing shelter and other services. Extensive media coverage, support from members of Congress and the American Civil Liberties Union’s involvement raised his profile.

Barajas got his break last year when California Gov. Jerry Brown pardoned a 2002 conviction for shooting at an occupied vehicle. Brown cited Barajas’ military service and advocacy work.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services told him in March that he was granted citizenship.

Hours before Barajas took his oath President Donald Trump tweeted about plans for a border wall with Mexico and a crackdown on so-called sanctuary cities. A surge of deportation arrests and sweeping policy changes have stung advocates of more open immigration policies.

Nathan Fletcher, a Marine combat veteran and chairman of the advocacy group Honorably Discharged, Dishonorably Discarded, said Trump’s tweet started the day with “division and conflict and tearing families apart” and ended with Barajas taking his oath.

“It’s a tremendous contrast of what can happen and what should happen and it shows that injustice can be overcome,” Fletcher said alongside Barajas.

Barajas came to the United States from …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


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