SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CNN) – Seven members of Congress visited a deported Veteran support house in Mexico on Saturday.
Among them was San Diego Congressman Juan Vargas who is pushing for legislation to give those who have been deported a second chance.
Rep. Vicente Gonzalez said, “Today we witnessed one of the most shameful acts in American history toward our veterans.”
The members of congress met in Chula Vista at Rep. Juan Vargas’ office.
Rep. Juan Vargas said, “There’s this misunderstanding that when you join the military you become automatically a U.S. citizen, you do not.”
Vargas and the leaders visited Tijuana to see the Deported Veterans House firsthand.
Rep. Juan Vargas said, “We appreciate your service of all of you and also all your friends here.”
The veterans they met were honorably discharged but because they committed a felony crime, were sent back to Mexico.
Vargas said, “Yes they’ve made some mistakes, and they paid for those mistakes but they should only pay once.”
The group is calling on national leaders to step in.
Rep. Lou Correa said, “Soldiers have a saying which is we never leave a soldier behind, we’ve left the soldiers behind. Let’s get them back.”
The veterans stories of separated families were heartbreaking.
Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham said, “How can this country turn it back on anyone who was honorably discharged from the military branch of service.”
Hector Barajas is one of those deported after serving six years in the Army, honorably discharged. Now he’s separated from his daughter, Liliana.
An estimated 300 deported veterans across the border are denied VA benefits and services.
Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán said, “If you can pick up a weapon put your life on the line for this country than you should be granted citizenship.”