November 12, 2012
Hector Barajas lives in a rundown apartment in Rosarito, Mexico. His small living room is cluttered with makeshift items appropriated as furniture: upended 20-gallon bucket chairs, chipped TV dinner trays trying to stand alone on teetering bent legs. There’s even a door-less broken fridge that serves as a bookshelf.
After growing up in Compton, California, Barajas served for seven years in the U.S Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. He had a green card, and was proud to serve what he considered to be his country.
Now, Barajas says, he never imagined he’d be banned for life from the United States.
“I was a legal resident when I entered the military in 1995,” he said. “I got out in 2001 with two honorable discharges. I was under the impression that I was a U.S. citizen automatically because of the recruiters.”