A veteran who served in the United States Marine Corps and was deported three times to Mexico managed to become a United States citizen after a legal battle that, according to his opinion and that of his lawyers, teaches immigrants that “you should never give up”.
Almost ten years after being deported for the last time to Mexico, Hector Ramiro Ocegueda Rivera, 53, was able to enter the United States this week for his naturalization interview and this Friday he took the oath in a hearing before a federal court in Los Angeles, California.
“Do not give up. It does not matter that the battle is being lost, you have to maintain the faith that you will be able to win because you are fighting for a just cause, ”Ocegueda told Efe excitedly.
The Hispanic slogan is shared by the lawyers of Public Counsel and the Milbank LLP law firm, who on behalf of the immigrant sued the Government of President Joe Biden last month for not allowing him to enter the country to continue his naturalization process.
The lawsuit argued that because Ocegueda was a Marine who served honorably during a designated period of hostilities, he is eligible to become a naturalized U.S. citizen under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), so he should be allowed to attend your interview.
Helen Boyer, Public Counsel attorney, explained to Efe that the lawsuit against the Biden Administration it was essential to achieve naturalization.
A bureaucratic trap
In the lawyer’s opinion, the United States Government “has created a bureaucratic mess” that causes deported veterans not to complete the citizenship process to which they are entitled.
“One branch of the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) invites deported veterans to (conduct) naturalization interviews and the other branches prevent deported veterans from attending those interviews. It doesn’t make sense, ”lamented Boyer.
Although the Government scheduled two citizenship interviews for Ocegueda in Los Angeles, the same Government refused to allow him to enter the United States to attend the appointment, the lawsuit detailed.
“This has left Ocegueda Rivera in an unfair trap,” warned the lawyers in the lawsuit.
Boyer adds that this case shows that it is necessary for the Government to establish priorities and the entities to agree to favor groups such as veterans who were deported.
It is an argument that gains more force after the announcement that the White House has proposed to review the cases of immigrants who served in the United States Armed Forces and were deported for minor causes.
Born in Obregón, Sonora (Mexico), Ocegueda Rivera came to the United States when she was 9 years old and served in the Marine Corps from 1987 to 1991 and in the Marine Corps Reserves from 1991 to 1995, when he retired with honors.
Since 1992 he became a permanent resident, a status he maintained until he was deported in 2000 for minor offenses.
Eager to be with his family, he returned to the United States and was deported twice more in 2002 and 2012, when he already decided to stay in Mexico and fight to return legally.
Boyer warned that, despite the deportation, the Hispanic had the right to continue his citizenship process, so he submitted the application in early 2019, although the process took more than 28 months to complete.
The immigrant recognizes that without the help of his lawyers he would not have been able to realize the dream of returning with his family and the country he considers home.
The federal judge Marc Scarsi, who conducted the naturalization hearing, emphasized the need for more attorneys to join the cause and fight for cases like this veteran’s.
The magistrate highlighted the work of Public Counsel and Milbank LLP, which was necessary to achieve justice in the case of the veteran, whom he thanked for having defended the United States in times of war.
The impact of deportation
Ocegueda said she was happy, but in her voice she felt the sadness of not being able to attend the funeral of her younger brother, who died in Los Angeles in January 2020. She says that even though she asked the Government for a humanitarian permit, they denied her the entrance to the country.
Alma Ocegueda, sister of the immigrant, describes this whole process as a long and difficult journey. “My parents raised us very close together, and when they deported him they took a token from the puzzle, a piece was missing. But now we can put it all together, ”she says through tears.
For the sister, one of the good things that this naturalization leaves behind is that she will no longer have to make her mother, Amanda Dolores Rivera from OceguedaThe 74-year-old is embarking on a long journey to see her oldest son, and it could harm his health.
When asking the veteran’s mother if there is any resentment, she assures no.
She adds that she is very grateful to this country, and that she asks Latinos and migrants to do their best to demonstrate their great contribution to the construction of the United States. “That they feel proud of our contributions,” he concludes.