Interview with deported Marine who will be allowed back in US - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Interview with deported Marine who will be allowed back in US

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SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) —  A Marine veteran who was deported 15 years ago has been cleared to return to the United States.

"I feel good," Chavez told News 8. "I'm very surprised and anxious." 

A jury convicted the honorably discharged Marine of animal cruelty in the late '90s.  

He served his sentence and was on parole living in San Diego when he was deported in 2002. 

"[I] started my life with my family, my kids and my ex-wife and then a few years later they decided that was a deportable offense," Chavez said.  

Earlier this year, Governor Jerry Brown pardoned Chavez and two other men, including Hector Barajas who opened a support house for deported veterans. 

The pardon paved the way for an immigration judge to reinstate Chavez's residency.  

He told News 8 via Skype that living in Mexico hasn't been easy, since he left there when he was a baby. 

"It was a struggle, trying to find myself, my place here," said Chavez. "[I] had to learn the language a little more and get with the workforce." 

The ACLU and a group fighting to help deported veterans were instrumental in making this happen.   

Now they say other deported veterans have hope.  

"But we have hundreds of deported veterans so, we have said this is a win for one soul and one life and we need congress to take action," said Nathan Fletcher who is a veteran and former California assemblyman and began the advocacy group Honorably Discharged, Dishonorably Deported. 

Congressman Juan Vargas has proposed legislation that would allow the vets to return to the United States. 

Chavez is one of 60 deported veterans living in Tijuana. 

Now 45 years old, he said he's missed a big part of his three sons lives but he's focusing on the future that includes U.S. citizenship and seeing his family. 

"It's a big present, it's a surprising present, one of the best presents I think I'll ever get," Chavez said. "And I'll be home for Christmas." 

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