Things That Matter

Latino Veterans Who Are Changing The Game In Business

Latino veterans are helping to make their local, national and global communities stronger years after retiring from service in the various U.S. military branches. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, businesses owned by Latino veterans doubled between 2002 to 2007. Here are some Latino veterans-turned-entrepreneurs we want to honor this Veterans Day.

1. Chris Mercado, Objective Zero

At the Military Times Service Member of the Year Ceremony! Congratulations to all of this years award recipients and…

Posted by Objective Zero App on Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Named one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business this year, Army active duty infantry officer Chris Mercado’s Objective Zero is helping fellow veterans receive the mental health they need during a crisis with the touch of an app. Mercado was inspired to create the app after he helped save the life of his friend and Army mate who was contemplating suicide. That six-hour phone call was the catalyst to get Mercado to recruit a group of his Georgetown School of Foreign Service classmates to work on developing the app in 2015. Now 350 trained volunteers are aiding veterans around the clock to give them the support they need.

2. Graciela Tiscanero-Sato, Author and Founder of Gracefully Global Group, LLC

Posted by Graciela Tiscareno-Sato on Thursday, January 14, 2016

Decorated Air Force veteran Graciela Tiscanero-Sato is a business maven who has been able to transfer her leadership skills into becoming a successful author in two genres and founding her own marketing company. She has authored a five-time award winning book on Latinos innovating in the green economy, as well as the first bilingual children’s book about mothers in the military, “Good Night Captain Mama/Buenas Noches Capitan Mama.” In 2014, Tiscanero-Sato was named a “Champion of Change” by President Barack Obama for her military service and contributions to the economy as a business owner.

3. Joe Sanchez, Co-Partner of Sol4r (Solar Four)

4. Nick Velez, Bastards American Canteen

When U.S. Marine veteran Nick Velez opened his restaurant Bastards Canteen in Downey, Calif., with two of his Marine buddies, the name raised some eyebrows in the city. The name is meant to commemorate the service of the U.S. Marines Corps, 2nd Battalion 4th Marines who were named the “Magnificent Bastards.” Once the history of the name was given, citizens welcomed the restaurant with open arms and it has even been named one of Los Angeles’ most popular veteran-owned businesses by ABC7. Sadly, one of the co-founders, Cpl. Calvin B. Spencer, was killed in a traffic collision on his motorcycle. Velez and the Bastard’s community continue to honor Spencer’s legacy through fundraisers and events.

5. Jessica Morel, Tri Freedom Real Estate Partners

Jessica Morel continues to serve her greater community off the field as the owner of Arizona-based Tri Freedom Real Estate. She is helping her clients to attain the American Dream of owning a home after opening the real estate company following her eight years of service in the United States Army Reserves. Morel and her team are still keeping the military tradition strong at their company by completing the Military and Veteran Housing Certification.


READ: After Four Years Fighting In The Marines, This Deported Veteran Came Back To The US In A Casket

Do you want to honor a Latino vet and business owner? Let us know in the comments!

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An Army Veteran’s Mom Was Deported Back To Mexico After Showing Up For A Meeting With ICE

Things That Matter

An Army Veteran’s Mom Was Deported Back To Mexico After Showing Up For A Meeting With ICE

Gerardo Aroni / Alianz

Imagine living in the United States for 31 years, raising your kids there, have a son enrol in the Army to defend your adopted country and then suddenly being deported to a country you no longer recognize as your own. Well, that is what the mother of an Army Officer experienced a few weeks ago in a case that has caught the media’s attention. Her son argues that her case was mishandled and that she should not have been sent to Tijuana, where she knows almost no one.

Military families make huge sacrifices to serve their country and even though special deferrals are sometimes granted, they hold their breath expecting the worst. And the worst is exactly what ends up happening sometimes. 

The beginning of 2020 spelled doom for Rocio Rebollar Gomez y su familia as she was sent to Mexico after building a life in the United States.

Rebollar Gomez, now 51-years-old, had three children in the United States, including 30-year-old Second Lt. Gibram Cruz, who has served in the army for half a decade. She has a life in the United States and had hired a lawyer to deal with her migratory status in the best possible way. She even was scheduled to self-deport and had agreed on that with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). 

She attended a meeting with ICE, not knowing that the authorities would deport her then and there! 

Gibram Cruz has called ICE’s actions inhumane. As The New York Times reports, ICE acted on the first opportunity they got to deport Rocio Rebollar Gomez to Mexico: “Ms. Gomez, 51, was previously scheduled to self deport and that plan was known to ICE, the family’s lawyer, Tessa Cabrera, said on Friday. Instead, as the family went to an ICE office to discuss her case, Ms. Gomez was taken across the border to Tijuana without a chance to say goodbye, Ms. Cabrera said”. This is just appalling. Actions like this spark psychological trauma in a situation that is already dire to begin with. It feels like a premeditated effort to add insult to injury. 

Rocio Rebollar Gomez tried to do things right and explore every avenue to stay in the United States, including benefits given to military families.

Lt. Gibram Cruz claims that his mother was “snuck her out through the back” and that she was in Mexico in less than half an hour. Rebollar Gomez ran a small business selling health products and also drove for Uber. According to NYT she also explored an exemption provided to military families for service to country, as she “had attempted to stay in the United States legally, including deferred action under the discretionary option for military families through Citizen and Immigration Services, Ms. Cabrera said”. She had previously been removed from the country in 1995, 2005 and 2009 but found her way back to her family. 

ICE has responded and says that her removal was deserved, but Lt Gibran Cruz claims his mom did what any woman in her situation would have done.

As NYT reports, Mary G. Houtmann, a spokeswoman for ICE, said that “Ms. Gomez’s 2009 removal was the result of a 2008 order by an immigration judge and that she illegally re-entered the country after that.”

Gibran does not deny the fact that his mother re-entered the country illegally, but claims that her removal was unnecessary: “Her as a responsible mother did what any mother in her situation would do and came back to care for her children by any means. A country that was founded on immigrants should be welcoming to my mother, who her whole life has been an outstanding citizen.”

He continued while at a press conference: “We have always provided and succeeded by ourselves. We simply asked ICE to exercise some discretion and let her continue being a contributing member of her society”. Gibran also stressed the fact that military families make a lot of sacrifices and special considerations should be explored. 

In the meantime, Rocio’s family is worried about her safety while in Mexico.

Rocio’s family is concerned about her safety back in Mexico. According to one of her daughters, Karla McKissick, one of Rocio’s brothers was abducted in Acapulco and is now presumed dead. His body has never been found. Rocio will stay with a half-sister she had not seen in a decade. The family lawyer has indicated that they have run out of options. In the meantime, the family will go south of the border to bring her supplies, but the family has been torn apart and left traumatized and scarred for life.  

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This Deported Veteran Has Returned To The US And Is Now An American Citizen

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This Deported Veteran Has Returned To The US And Is Now An American Citizen

SCREENSHOT / Green Card Veterans / FACEBOOK

Last year, Army veteran Miguel Perez was deported to Mexico, now he has finally become a United States citizen. While Perez served in the military with deployments in Afghanistan, a prior nonviolent drug conviction is why officials say the veteran was deported without warning. Perez was granted clemency by Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker and with the support of Senator Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran herself, he was finally granted citizenship. 

Perez’s nightmare makes national news.

Perez arrived in the U.S. from Mexico legally when he was 8 years old. His parents and children are citizens, and Perez lived here with a Greencard for much of his life. In 2002 and 2004, Perez served in Afghanistan, when he returned, like many soldiers, he had PTSD. 

Pritzker said Perez should have had an “expedited path to citizenship” by way of an executive order by President George W. Bush, “but due to oversight, he was not afforded that opportunity.”

Perez says the experience at war overseas caused him to have PTSD and become addicted to drugs. It was this untreated addiction that would cause him to receive a felony drug conviction. He was convicted of delivering over two pounds of cocaine to an undercover cop in 2008 where he pleaded guilty. 

After serving his time for 7.5 years, in 2016 he was turned over to immigration officials where his Greencard was revoked. Last year, Perez was deported to Mexico. He says he was given no warning and no chance to speak to his family. 

Illinois Gov. J. N. Pritzker pardons Perez.

After a national public outcry, officials believed Perez was wrongfully deported. Pritzker granted him clemency in hopes of paving the way for the naturalization process with a clean record. “Now we believe that Miguel is eligible for naturalization because criminal conviction doesn’t render him ineligible through ‘bad moral character.’ That’s the term they use,” his lawyer, Chris Bergin told journalists in Laredo, Texas. “That’s what we’re going to argue, and I think it’s a good argument.” 
Bergin was sympathetic to Perez’s situation, suggesting it was a failure of the system to provide adequate support for veterans. 
“He served and saw serious action in Afghanistan,” Bergin said. “If we do support the troops, then we gotta support them all.”

Senator Tammy Duckworth fights on behalf of Perez and immigrants.

Senator Duckworth heard Perez’s case and went through many efforts to spare him from deportation by writing several letters of support including one directly asking U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielson to personally review his case. 

“Miguel Perez was willing to protect our nation in uniform and his experiences after coming home—including the great lengths he went to reform his life—show us why we should never give up on our combat Veterans. While he shouldn’t have been deported in the first place, I’m glad he’s received this parole after Governor Pritzker granted him clemency to attend his citizenship hearing, and I wish Miguel the best of luck. It will be a proud day for our country when we can call Miguel a fellow American,” Senator Duckworth said in a statement. 

On the one-year anniversary of Perez’s deportation, she re-introduced three bills to support veterans and service members from deportation. The Veterans Visa and Protection Act, HOPE Act and I-VETS Act, “would prohibit the deportation of Veterans who are not violent offenders, give legal permanent residents a path to citizenship through military service and strengthen VA healthcare services for Veterans.” 

Perez becomes finally becomes a citizen. 

Long overdue swearing-in as a US Citizen!!!

Posted by Green Card Veterans on Friday, October 4, 2019

It wasn’t a call that the 41-year-old anticipated given the circumstances, but it was a welcome one nonetheless: he would be sworn in as a United States citizen. 

“I was like no way. Seriously? He was like, ‘Yeah, it’s official,’ ” Perez told CNN of when his lawyer got the news. 

Perez completed the naturalization oath with Green Card Veterans present. Now that he is back in the U.S. the veteran can spend time with his family and receive treatment for his health; Perez was being treated for an undisclosed issue when he received the call. 

“I get to take care of my health, first and foremost,” he said. “It’s been a long … a long journey, a long battle.”

On his first day back, Perez told CNN all he plans to do is go bowling with his son. Inspired by Perez’s situation Senator Duckworth and bill co-sponsors Senator Richard Blumenthal, Senator Mazie Hirono, and Senator Ron Wyden plan to keep fighting to prevent veterans from being deported.

“Men and women willing to wear our uniform shouldn’t be deported by the same nation they risked their lives to defend,” Duckworth said. 

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