Photo: Valente (left) and Manuel (right) Valenzuela
Two brothers, after serving in the U.S. military during Vietnam, now face deportation from the very country they fought for.
Valente Valenzuela, 62, and his brother Manuel, 59, have been allowed to remain in the U.S. for at least another year after a judge postponed their deportations until 2012.
Born in Mexico to an American mother and a U.S. naturalized father, the veterans are two of 11 children, and now live in Colorado Springs, CO.
Back in 2005, Manuel was arrested for speeding, but to his surprise, the officer informed him that his license was not valid. When he tried to clear up what he assumed was a mistake at the DMV, Manuel was told his license has been revoked because his Social Security number was not valid. Trying to figure out what was going on, he then contacted the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. According to them, his license was ordered revoked because his U.S. citizenship was being questioned.
Due to a domestic disturbance conviction about 25 years ago, Valente said he too received a letter in 2009 saying he was being deported.
With physical and emotional scars from their time in the military, and though currently being treated at a V.A. hospital for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the Valenzula brothers say possible deportation is far worse then all of it.
These two men are decorated Vietnam veterans – Valente in the Army, Manuel as a Marine—and supporters have stood by their side in court and even on Facebook.
In a group called Stop the Deportation of Vietnam Veterans on Facebook, its administrator Hedy Trevino said last year, “The ongoing deportation of Vietnam veteran concerns us, including these two brothers who, because they could be deported soon, are the focus of our attention at this time.”
The legal argument in the brothers’ cases are that the two men are not U.S. citizens, but lawyers say they should have been granted citizenship based on their mother’s status as an American citizen.