‘It’s a harsh awakening’: Two brothers who fought in Vietnam face deportation

President Trump might end up deporting two Vietnam War veterans in their sixties due to a decades-old law.

Manuel Jesus Valenzuela was just 18 years old when he enlisted for service in the Vietnam War in 1971, two years after his brother, Valente, enlisted himself.

“I felt like, I need to go out and serve the country,” Valenzuela told Fox 21 Colorado Springs. “I had to do something. So, I said I’m going to do my duty as a Marine.”

“We were on the border of Vietnam, on the shores and we would do rescue missions into Nam in a helicopter, to help troops who were ambushed,” Valenzuela said, describing what he did during his three deployments.  “It’s hard to talk about. To rescue somebody, you had to put down the enemy.”

The Valenzuela brothers, who are originally from Mexico, were born to an American mother. However, the two are permanent residents and not naturalized citizens, which exposes them to deportation due to the Clinton-era Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA).

Both brothers pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in the 1990s for being drunk and disorderly while at a wedding celebration. The IIRIRA stipulates that any permanent resident convicted of even a misdemeanor is subject to deportation. The two brothers have been fighting a deportation order since 2009, and have yet to get any closure from immigration courts despite multiple appearances challenging their deportation.

“[T]o get a removal notice from this country, I felt that my world just stopped right there,” Valenzuela told local media. “It’s a harsh awakening to get a removal notice from a country that we brought each other home from wars you know.”

Both Manuel and Valente’s fate remains uncertain, as President Trump has made the deportation of immigrants convicted of crimes a priority under his administration.


Tom Cahill is a writer for the Resistance Report based in the Pacific Northwest. He specializes I coverage of political, economic, and environmental news. You can contact him via email at [email protected], or follow him on Facebook.