Sunday, February 12, 2017

Testimony of a Deported US Marine, Veteran of War

February 11, 2017 was a particularly sad day at the aid center for migrants in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico where I volunteer. Early in the day, a man presented himself declaring himself to be a US Marine war veteran who was deported. He spoke in English, which appeared to be his first or preferred language. But, as most of the migrants there are Spanish speakers, they asked him to repeat his story for them. He complied, but stumbled some and sometimes struggled to find the correct words.

I was horrified at the story, particularly because he was clearly feeling so betrayed and so abandoned and forlorn. 

Later that morning, I had the opportunity to visit with him privately. He told me that he graduated from high school in Colorado, where he lived most of his childhood. Immediately after graduation, he joined the Marines. Later he was shipped off to war.

War was a particularly traumatic experience for him, he told me. In fact, he said that he couldn't allow himself to think about that at the moment because it would induce emotional overload. He already appeared to be struggling, confused and fearful.

Rene doesn't have any family or relatives in Mexico, he told me. He doesn't know the country at all. He misses his family and feels isolated. 

He also told me that his possessions and cellphone were taken from him by immigration authorities--and never returned. "They took anything that could connect me to anyone. I don't have any identification. They took it." Money? "Only fifty cents," he told me.

He feels like a victim of Trump's executive orders on immigration.

Although eager to record his testimony, I didn't want to further traumatize him. Fortunately, the staff had recorded his story in Spanish. My own rough translation follows:

My name is Rene ______. I’m a US Marine, Infantry Division, the 332nd. I was in the Afghanistan and Iraq War. That was a very rough experience for me. I lost many of my brother Marines who died in front of me. Many of them with expressions very grave when they were shattered with bullets.
I myself almost lost my life. I lost feeling in half of my face. My lip was destroyed and reconstructed. I have an injury in my private parts. I served the four years of my contract—my tour of duty—with the United States. I was returned. When I completed my tour of duty, I decided not to continue.
I have three little children—well, [unintelligible]. I’ve lived in the US for 24 years. It’s always seemed like my country. I gave up a lot for them. Nevertheless, the country—the President—made it easy for them to eliminate my documents and deport me. Because he feels like I’m a risk to the country. What I did for them wasn’t enough. Here I am in Mexico--without my family, without my children. I’m all alone, with only the assistance of these church people.
Who knows what the future will be for me?
I haven't verified any of this information. I simply relay what I heard. You can make your own judgement.


One Fly said...

I would like to know if this is for real. There are phone calls being made I'm sure. If this is for real it deserves national awareness.

Billie Greenwood said...

I did some Googleing on this topic over the weekend. It's not unprecedented. Deported military vets have a right to a burial in the US. So they can come back after they're dead-- consolation prize, I guess. Really sad situation. Thanks for stopping by to comment, One.

One Fly said...

I know but it his story true?? It seems a bit sketchy.

Billie Greenwood said...

Hmm, as mentioned in the post, I can't verify it. What part seems sketchy to you? I spoke with him briefly today, btw, but not anything of substance--just 'how're you doin'?' stuff.

One Fly said...

The way I read it he's the only one saying this. He must know many people in the States who can verify what he's saying.

Billie Greenwood said...

Thanks. Now I see your point, and I agree. But I won't try to verify. That'd be a journalist's or lawyer's role.

One Fly said...

I hope somebody is looking into it and if true people need to be made aware.

Because of the political parameters happening this example is one the best ways to resist.

Force the Right to admit wrong and if credible a real journalist would be all over this.

One Fly said...

On a side note Billie. We were just talking about Nogales and I am curious if people have snow birds are crossing the border there again like not that long ago to have lunch and shop? It was fun and from my understanding that all came to a halt. Just curious.

Billie Greenwood said...

I see more people crossing to visit the dentist or pharmacy, but there's some lunch-and-shopping folks, too. Also duty-free crossers. No violence problem in Nogales, so people don't worry about crossing. Fingers crossed that'll continue.

One Fly said...

Glad to hear that as from my understanding that all but came to a stop.
Thanks Billie!

Billie Greenwood said...

No problem! Thank YOU for stopping by, reading, commenting. I'm in your debt!

Barbara Mcpherson said...

Shameful treatment of this man. The world is watching. Canada is now receiving refugees from the US. People who were allowed into the US as refugees are now fearing deportation. These people are facing the fierce prairie winter to cross, risking frostbite and their lives.

Billie Greenwood said...

Thank you, Barbara, for adding that pertinent info. People die in this southern border area also, crossing rough terrain because they are unable to enter the US with dignity. Our nation has a lot to answer for.