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This Former Marine Had To Self-Deport To Mexico Before He Could Become A U.S. Citizen

Meet Daniel Torres. The former U.S. Marine and Iraq War veteran finally became a U.S. citizen after self-deporting five years ago.

Credit: @DeportedVets / Twitter

Despite being unauthorized to live in the United States, Torres wanted to fight for this country, so he used a false birth certificate to enlist.

Credit: Hector Bajaras / Facebook

“When I enlisted in the Marines, I knew the risks. It was something that could come up; it was something that could come back and hurt me,” Torres told the press outside of San Diego’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ office. “I was just hoping that I wasn’t going to pay for that mistake for the rest of my life. And now I’m able to finally go home and live the life I feel like I need to.”

Torres was forced to leave the country he loved and defended because of a lost wallet.

Credit: Hector Bajaras / Facebook

The Iraq vet went to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get his lost ID card replaced, but Torres’s story raised enough suspicion that the DMV notified his superiors. The U.S. Marines discovered his immigration status and gave him an honorable discharge.

Torres originally went to France to fight for the Foreign Legion, but he eventually relocated to Tijuana, Mexico.

According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, Torres lost part of his hearing while serving in Iraq, which barred him from serving in the Foreign Legion. As a result, he moved back to TJ, the border city where was born.

It was in Tijuana that Torres got the support from other military vets that were deported after serving.

Credit: Deported Veterans Support House / Facebook

The Deported Veterans Support House, or “the Bunker,”  helps vets adjust to their new country. The organization also provides assistance with food, housing and clothing, while also advocating for legislation that would end the deportation of those who have served.

Living in Mexico didn’t stop Torres from seeking legal status in the country he grew up in. Thanks to a special provision in the 1964 Immigration and Nationality Act, Torres could apply for citizenship because he served during a “time of hostility.”

Credit: @TatianaYSanchez / Twitter

That’s right. Undocumented people who serve in the military during certain times CAN become U.S. citizens after serving, but they have to serve during a time of hostility. Torres’ case was made easier because he wasn’t deported.

Here are the “times of hostility” that would allow undocumented service men and women to become  U.S. citizens if they so choose.

Credit: uscis.gov

“[D]efending US interest is the one thing I am the proudest of. I did not join the Corps because I wanted an alibi for citizenship, no,” Torres said in an open letter to some haters (seriously). “I will not use my military service as an excuse, I love being a Devildog and I will be one till the day I die. All people who survive know they do so at a risk, the same goes for me; it was a risk to join claiming I was a citizen when I wasn’t, but you know what? I would do it all over again…”

“I just am really, really happy, to be able to finally go home and be here where I feel I belong,” Torres told local media.

Credit: @SDACLU / Twitter

“I’ve missed birthdays, Thanksgivings, reunions, weddings, funerals,” Torres continued in his open letter. “I cannot be there now while my mother struggles with chemotherapy. I do not want your pity or to feel bad for me, but I do want you to know, that we are people, good people.”

Way to go, Daniel.

Credit: The Voice / NBC / The Voice / Giphy

Let’s hope that this conversation will continue so we can help all of our veterans, documented or not.

READ: How these Latino Military Heroes Put Trump to Shame

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Mexican Army Wants To Pay Off Murder Victim’s Family With One Million Pesos In Cash

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Mexican Army Wants To Pay Off Murder Victim’s Family With One Million Pesos In Cash

The family of a man who was shot in the back and killed by a Mexican soldier is demanding better support from the Mexican military after officials offer them one million pesos, or about $49,000 USD.

Officials say that the Guatemalan man was in retreat from a military checkpoint near the southern border, when they admit that a soldier wrongfully shot at the man killing him.

Military officials are offering $1 million pesos to family of the Guatemalan man the army murdered.

The Mexican Army is offering 1 million pesos (about $49,000 USD) in compensation to the family of a Guatemalan man who was shot and killed by a Mexican soldier along a stretch of Mexico’s southern border.

The man, Elvin Mazariegos, 30, was killed by the army in the state of Chiapas by a soldier who opened fire on a car in which he was traveling with two other people.

According to Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval, the soldier shot at the vehicle as it tried to escape in reverse from a military checkpoint. He said the decision to shoot was an “erroneous reaction” because the military personnel hadn’t come under attack. The solider who shot Elvin Mazariegos was turned over to the federal Attorney General’s Office.

The family is asking for more support since Mazariegos was the family’s sole income earner.

Olga Mazariegos told the newspaper Reforma that the Mexican army had offered a single 1-million-peso payment to her brother’s family. But the family is also demanding monthly maintenance payments for Mazariego’s daughters, aged 9 and 5, and 2-year-old son, she said. She said their father was the sole income earner in his family.

“What we want is monthly maintenance, but they say that they’ll only give [a single payment of] approximately half a million quetzales,” Mazariegos said. At today’s exchange rate, 1 million pesos is in fact 377,300 quetzales.

The slain man’s sister said the army’s proposed payment will be insufficient for the man’s widow to maintain her family. “She’s left alone with her three children; what happened to my brother is not fair,” she said, adding that it was insulting for the army to say that his life was worth 1 million pesos.

Mazariegos murder comes as police brutality gains greater attention across Mexico.

Credit: PEDRO PARDO/AFP via Getty Images

Residents near the border (including Guatemalans) have demanded justice. About 300 angry residents detained 15 other soldiers also deployed near the border. Nine soldiers were released about three hours after they were detained, while the others were set free in the early hours of Tuesday morning after Mexican officials reached a deal with the civilians to provide them with “economic reparation” for the killing. The army chief didn’t reveal how much money was paid to the angry residents.

The killing of Mazariegos came just two days after the death of a Salvadoran woman who was violently pinned to the ground while she was being arrested by municipal police in Tulum, Quintana Roo.

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President Joe Biden Ends Trump-Era Trans Military Ban

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President Joe Biden Ends Trump-Era Trans Military Ban

Former President Donald Trump and his administration have a long track record of attacking LGBTQ+ votes. One of the first attacks was to ban transgender people from serving in the military. Years later, President Joe Biden has reversed the hateful order.

President Joe Biden has ended the trans military ban.

Former President Trump left behind a trail of destruction and pain with his administration. One of the first LGBTQ+ attacks was banning trans people from joining and serving in the military. The policy, which was created via a tweet, caused unnecessary pain to trans military members both current and retired. Many lost benefits and others were discharged for being who they are.

The order is a welcomed change to the military.

“This is reinstating a position that previous commanders and — as well as the Secretaries have supported,” President Biden said about the order. “And what I’m doing is enabling all qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform, and essentially restoring the situation as it existed before, with transgender personnel, if qualified in every other way, can serve their government in the United States military.”

LGBTQ+ people and allies are celebrating the end of the discriminatory policy.

The policy banning trans members from the military served no purpose other than singling out people for who they are. For years, the military has accepted LGBTQ+ people and former President Trump’s anti-trans policy was damaging and unnecessarily harmful to servicemembers.

President Biden’s plan will tackle the legacy of disenfranchisement in three steps:

  • Directs the secretary of defense and secretary of homeland security to implement this order.
  • Immediately prohibits involuntary separations, discharges, and denials of reenlistment or continuation of service on the basis of gender identity or under circumstances relating to gender identity.
  • Requires an initial report from the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security be made to the President within 60 days on their progress in implementing the directives and policy included in today’s Executive Order.

READ: Amelio Robles Ávila Was Mexico’s First Trans Soldier And A Revolutionary Hero, More Than 100 Years Ago

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