Vietnam veterans fight a new war against deportation from the country they served

Manuel (left) and Valente Valenzuela wore their uniforms at a recent presentation at UTEP. (Brenda Armendariz/Borderzine,com)

Manuel (left) and Valente Valenzuela wore their uniforms at a recent presentation at UTEP. (Brenda Armendariz/Borderzine,com)

Manuel (left) and Valente Valenzuela wore their uniforms at a recent presentation at UTEP. (Brenda Armendariz/Borderzine,com)

Manuel (left) and Valente Valenzuela wore their uniforms at a recent presentation at UTEP. (Brenda Armendariz/Borderzine,com)

EL PASO — Manuel and Valente Valenzuela have been fighting a war all their lives.

The U.S. military veterans fought for America in heavy rain under enemy fire in the Vietnam War but now the country they fought for wants to kick them out.

They wore the Army and Marine uniforms, laced-up their boots, loaded their weapons, and protected the soil they stand on today. Now they are engaged in a different kind of war, defending themselves against their own government in a protracted fight for citizenship and the right to remain in the U.S.

On November 2008, Manuel Valenzuela, an Army veteran, received a removal notice from Homeland Security stating that he was being deported from this country. A few months later in January 2009 his brother Valente, a Marine veteran, received the same notice.

“When I opened the envelope, it just said ‘report of removal of this country,’ and I couldn’t believe it. I thought they made a mistake,” Valente said.

The Valenzuela Brothers feel betrayed, embarrassed, and angered by the country they fought for. (Brenda Armendariz/

The Valenzuela Brothers feel betrayed and embarrassed by the country they served. (Brenda Armendariz/

The brothers felt betrayed, embarrassed, and angered. These soldiers who lived the horror of war and suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and a disease caused by the “Agent Orange” defoliant used in the Vietnam War now face deportation.

As Military men, they took an oath to protect this country at all costs, but now that same country wants to get rid of them. “Who goes after the terrorist? A soldier. We are the ones that dodge the bullets and the bombs,” Manuel said.

They were both born in Mexico, but their mother was a native of New Mexico and they thought they had inherited their mother’s citizenship. But the government disagrees.

Manuel and Valente both faced misdemeanor charges that they say were taken care of immediately so they could stay in the U.S., but federal law would not recognize that them as American citizens.

Army and Marine uniforms from the Valenzuela brothers. (Brenda Armendariz/

Army and Marine uniforms from the Valenzuela brothers. (Brenda Armendariz/

“We have struggled more than you can imagine,” Manuel said. They say that Homeland Security contacted them stating that the agency was not aware of their military status and the fact that they were related.

“You’re ready to throw us away from this country and you don’t even know us,” Manuel said.

Because of the Valenzuela’s recent media presence, many veterans in need of help, some also facing deportation and others already deported, have contacted them.

“All these years we thought we were the only ones dealing with this,” Valente said. According to the brothers, around 3,000 veterans have been deported.

“There’s been veterans banished from this country and if they step in this country they get arrested,” Manuel said, “getting 18 to 20 years in jail for stepping into the country that they fought for.”

These brothers have joined forces once again in hopes of bringing justice to the heroes who risked their lives for the land that now disowns them. For this reason, veterans across the nation have joined in the protest, demanding their right to remain in the country they served and the return of deported veterans.

“We’re not going to stop until we bring them back,” Manuel said.

30 thoughts on “Vietnam veterans fight a new war against deportation from the country they served

  1. This is the kind of crap that needs everyone’s help. Don’t let them be deported. Homeland security should have never been set up. Why are we as Americans letting this happen. Not long ago they had homeland security in Germany. It was called the Gestapo!!!

  2. sad. I understand we sometimes have to ask people who are not residents to leave. but this is crazy. they’ve spent their lives here! all the people we allow here-just because. I can’t beleive this is even an issue!!!! and to find we asked 3000 veterans to leave but had no trouble asking them to fight for this country is mind boggling. so many come over and live off the “system” for years and some for life. we allow them to stay even when not faced with danger in going back home. this story makes no sense. perhaps i don’t have all the facts but i’m sure the powers that be could investigate their reason for asking them to leave, allow them grace to stay as this IS their home. If mom is an American citizen, i thought child was too!?!?!?! Praying this works out for the best.

  3. this is bull those whom fought in the veitnam war thats from other places should stay they paid for the right to stay in the united states through the war of which you feds would not fight unless its here at home so give our vets their respect and allow them to all stay in the united states im a son of sgt from the usaf and a brother of a usmc veteran they deserve respect and honor for their sacrifice in going to war knowing they may not return as they went into the war zone

  4. It has been my understanding for years, that any non-citizen who serves in the US military could apply for citizenship, which was usually granted.
    This case raises another question, his mother was born in the US. Our President’s claim to citizenship is his mother was a US citizen. I don’t mean to be political, I am questioning why men who served this country are being or facing deportation.

  5. Obamas homeland security. Look at the dates moron. 2008. That’s still in the bbbbuuuassshhh. Chchchcheney era learn your history timeline

  6. This is B.S. Get rid of Homeland Security & Janet Napolitano. Napolitano is the reason for this mess. They served, as I did. Why are they going through this. I came here from the Philippines, in the middle 50’s. My mother went through the 7 years of prepping for the citizenship test. She and I had to learn English, in that time period. Finally she was a citizen of USA. I had dual citizenship until I enlisted in the military. I was told that when I made to choice to enlist, I announced my decision of which citizenship I wanted. Getting out of Vietnam, October 1967, I was a citizen. So should these guys. They paid their dues. Vietnam, as is any war, was no picnic. It was hard and got harder as time went on. The same is true today for the young men & women serving in the current wars. They should be automatic citizens. I say that they paid their dues for them, and their kids (sorry the wives would have to go through the process of citizenship. Welcome home Valenzuela Brothers!!!! Good luck & Esprit De Corps

  7. This is a bunch of WTF and shows the JERKS who are IN CHARGE of PROTECTING OUR COUNTRY?????????? DEPORT THEM!!

  8. Only in America, would the men and women who made “Land of the free, Home of the brave” still possible for us, get threats, that most likely will be acted upon to be deported. We have so many so called ” citizens ” that are terrorists, drug lords, murderers, etc. that should be deported to Afganistan because they do not deserve the rights to live in this country that our Hero’s that you want to deport, died for. Yes , these gentlemen are citizens in my book, and they have every right to live in this , their country. Liberty and Justice for all somehow seems backwards to me now. Give liberty to the men and women who fought , and died for ALL America. There is alot of trash that have rights because they are citizens. We need some justice here.

  9. This is bullshit if you pick up an m-16 and fight for our country is use to make you an automatic citizen. Wow what a concept if you are here illegally here’s an m-16 go serve and when you return here’s a SS card you are now a contributing American citizen go forth and pay your taxes and become a member of the best society in the world….

  10. LL&R for my fellow veterans. This is a travesty. FTF, FTP, FHS, FTATF, and most of all FTW!

  11. I’m a retired Vietnam Veteran and a retired Peace Officer with over 37 years in Law Enforcement. I worked with INS, now ICE, for several years. If we have the whole story, they have no serious criminal history, then this is an injustice that needs to be corrected. Two Vietnam Veterans, two heroes, two vets suffering from the effects of Agent Orage and PTSD only to be deported as an undesirable! I always thought that a way to U.S. Citizenship was to join the military or serve your country in another manner, i.e., Peace Corps. To think that 1000’s of vets have been deported, “What is this government thinking about?” There are plenty of undesirables to be deported, stop punishing the vets, we have suffered enough.

  12. We are going to deport veterans, but it’s OK for the “ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS” , who snuck across our border, to stay and become legal!!! What the F*** is our government trying to do? We won’t, (Arizona law was over ruled by washington a**h***s) and can’t stop illegal immigrants, no deportation, no arrests, but screw the guys who actually fought for this country. America…wake up!! Our fore fathers would be roling over in thier graves. Such a sham!!

  13. If they are going to deport our Veterans then they for damn sure need to Deport Obama. he is the terrorist here and Will not do one thing to prove that he is a citizen and we alll know he is not. He should NOT even be in the white house. Deport that Louse and leave our Veterans alone.

  14. How come no one said anything when they joined the service. They were good enough to fight for this country, then they should be good enough to be considered citizens. I would be glad to call them my brothers. Welcome home.
    What can we do to help these Viet Nam Brothers of ours?

  15. Who do we contact to correct this misjustice? If we are to band together, and we owe it to ALL deported Veterans, where do we start? I’m in !

  16. Contact banished veterans at (FACEBOOK) BANISHED VETERANS, BROTHERS VALENZUELA, HECTOR BARAJAS, we have deported veterans all over the world, I myself am in el salvador, HONORABLY DISCHARGED, served during two major operations in the persian gulf, just last week the DEPORTED veterans in ROSARITO Mexico set up a support home, the first of its kind in a foreign country.. this was set up by HECTOR BARAJAS, without any funding, if the government does not help, we will help each other.. we will support each other, our motto is WE LEAVE NO MAN BEHIND. one of our deported veterans MANUEL CASTANO, died this year without medical attention even worse he died alone without his family, I go by the name BANI SHED on facebook, last year the VALENZUEL BROS. showed OBAMA our BANISHED VETERANS banner at the NCLR and gave their card to the president, the prez said he would be intouch, but here we are Obama never addressed the issue, then again the brothers got to obama a second time and nothing so far, not long ago one of the brothers went to a function were michelle obama was and talked to her and yet nothing…when i was waiting in a ICE jail i saw people, unducumented, people that came here illegaly they got released and went home in the USA, and I, a person that came to the US as a kid and a permanent resident that served in the armed forces honorable GOT THE BOOT… FUBAR if you would like to know more about this issue contact us on facebook…

  17. This is so typical of this ungrateful nation, when I was wounded I was denied promotion
    due to my injury. This injury was result of enemy fire; and I still could preform other
    duties, but not Infantry duties. After eight(8) years in grade they finally realized that
    in fact I could function. This government protects illegals but deports those who fought
    for their country. F—k this politicians!!!!!

  18. A veteran as a member of the military swore an oath to the US to the exclusion of other countries. This should be enough, along with honorable service, to allow the veteran to be treated as a citizen, whether a “statuatory” citizen or not.
    One of the most politically favorable things that could be done is to make this a presidential order, followed if necessary, by an act of congress.

  19. I am a Viet Nam Veteran also and I think this is a disgrace that our government wants to deport these Brothers. They deserve to stay in this country and like others have said our President has yet to prove he is a true citizen of the United States which should have been one of the requirement for becoming a PRESIDENT.

  20. This is a disgrace. Families are being torn apart. These individuals have gone through a great deal to protect and defend our country and look at their reward. This is injustice at it’s best. How are the families expected to survive. In most cases the individuals deported are head of household. Many of these individuals are independent small business owners and well respected in their communities. Individuals who lived here most of their lives and now forced to restart a life in a land very foreign to them; given the fact that they have lived most of their natural lives in the U.S. I hope President Obama works swiftly to reverse conditions for these individuals who are currently living this nightmare. People in ICE’s custody as well as individuals who were deported to their native countries should be given a second chance to live as productive members of society.

  21. as a Mexican-American i hate these stories about people getting deported! but pisses me of that they’re deporting vets! im going to join the military and it just annoys about the us deporting vets

  22. It´s a true disgrace to deport our military veterans, after they have fought for this country, puting their lives on the line while earning salaries of $ 344.10 per month back in 1974.

    Trowing them away as if they were a mere used merchandise that we have no longer need for. While ordinary Cubans citizens only have to arrive to US soil to be treated better than us War Veterans.

    There is no more difficult thing to do than to leave a family behind to fend for themselves, shattering all their dreams and leaving psychological scars for in them for ever.

    I am one of those deported Vietnam Veterans, 8 years service in the USN, college educated through the G.I. Bill, was a pillar in my community. Since I was deported I´ve earned two college degrees and continue to be an example to others in this foreign country. Every day of the past 12 years I can´t help it to think of them, of what could have been, of what is not, and provably never will be.

    I hope one day our American People come together and press for our return.

    God Bless America

    Vietnam Vet

  23. The reason these vets are being deported is simple, because they are an easy target for “homeland security hotshots” they are family men, husbands fathers and in some cases grandfathers, they were legal resident aliens who have broken a law that has a possible sentence of one year or more, but did not have citizen status, most have not broken more than one misdemeanor law or pose any threat to us, but because they are family men with an address they are easy to find and make someone’s numbers look good
    we need to ask congress to change this unbelievable abusive practice that is ripping families apart in the most vile manner. I have to believe that this is the grossest type of bounty hunting ever. I don’t think the “agents” sleep very well
    Norb Langys
    Vietnam vet and naturalized citizen

  24. welcome to Nazi Germany where obamas Reich troops look at our vets as Adolf Hitler looked at the jew it makes me sick i have 5 sons ho are U.S. MARINES my father and his brother where in vietnam there dad was in ww2 my moms dad was in ww2 and i am proud of them and you men as well with out you this world would be a defrent place you make it so we at home are safe . but Homeland Security & Janet Napolitano cant do that look at boston it is just rong and i hope thay see how rong thay are get the bad guys not America’s heros or can you not tell the difference between them ????god bless you son’s and Daughter’s of America stand proud no matter where you are Because you Veterans maid this Country’s familys proud.

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