Photo: Deported Latino Vets to Get Help
Brothers Valente and Jesus Manuel Valenzuela, war veterans with suspended deportation orders, announced Wednesday the launching of a campaign to help Hispanic former U.S. soldiers in their same situation or who have already been deported.
“We’re going to start a trip to begin the year making known many issues related to this odyssey. The people of this country should know what’s happening to the families of our deported veteran brothers,” said the Valenzuelas in a communique.
The initiative is supported by Point Man International Ministries of Colorado Springs, where the brothers live.
“We already did our part by serving this country. Now it’s the people’s turn to do their part and donate (to this project),” the brothers said.
In the past, the pair of siblings turned to the media to tell their story, they showed up in uniform during more than one visit by President Barack Obama to Colorado, they signed a letter to first lady Michelle Obama, traveled to Washington to speak with lawmakers and presented their case to politicians and academicians.
Now, they say, they want to make known the situation of hundreds of Hispanic veterans who have already been deported and the problems that face their families here in the United States.
To do that, during January and February the brothers will travel to Mexico and several Southwestern states accompanied by two independent filmmakers with the aim of shooting a documentary about deported Hispanic veterans or ones on the verge of being expelled.
Valente and Manuel Valenzuela are among the 11 children of a New Mexico woman and her Mexican-born U.S. citizen husband.
Valente joined the U.S. Army in 1967 and Manuel was a Marine from 1971-1974. Both were decorated for their service in Vietnam.
Seven years ago, federal authorities informed the pair that they had never been properly registered as U.S. citizens.
In 2005, Jesus received his deportation order. A year later, Valente was also notified he would be deported. Both deportations were confirmed in 2009, but then they were postponed.
The reason for that, according to what the Valenzuela brothers were told, is that, although the Department of Homeland Security does not accept the documents that they say prove they are citizens, it cannot prove that they are not.