Five years after founding a shelter in Tijuana for banished veterans and two years after starting his personal quest for repatriation to the United States, Hector Barajas finds himself in the midst of a whirlwind.
Barajas’s attorney recently informed him that, since California Governor Jerry Brown pardoned him last year for a criminal offense (based on his six years of honorable service, from 1995 to 2001, in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and his work at the shelter), the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has decided to grant him citizenship. The USCIS then told him to attend his naturalization ceremony next Friday, April 13, in their San Diego office.
Asked in a phone interview from Tijuana how he was going to get across the border to attend his naturalization, he said, “They’re taking care of it. It’s never been done before.
“It’s already overwhelming,” he added. “There have been non-stop calls and interviews from CNN, [well known news anchor] Jorge Ramos, and so on. In fact, someone’s trying to call me right now.” He noted that he suffers from high blood pressure and diabetes and was not feeling well at the moment.
The 40-year old explained that he has an 11-year-old daughter in Los Angeles and is keen “to be home with my family.” He added that he plans to continue his work with the Tijuana shelter, known as The Bunker, and will attempt to get grants, donations and staff so it can stay open.
“But I do need to start having an income,” he said, which means finding a job in Los Angeles.