Military Veterans Having To Hide In The Country They Served

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TASK AND PURPOSE)

Unwanted: An Army Veteran Hiding In The Country He Served
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A disabled Army veteran and illegal immigrant living in hiding in the United States shares his story.

David is sore most days. It’s his back and his hands, mostly, but to be honest, it’s all the joints. He’s deaf in one ear, blind in one eye, and walks with a cane. He’s 67 and has arthritis most everywhere you can have it. But there’s some pain that age doesn’t inflict. Terrible thoughts, the stuff of bad dreams. For him they’re memories, and all too real.

David, who served stateside in the Army during the Vietnam War, is clean these days. He kicked his heroin habit and stopped boozing years ago. He stays away from painkillers too, for a different reason: They don’t play nice with his dialysis treatment. He goes to a Department of Veteran Affairs hospital every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday — three hours each time — and he can’t sleep when the needle is in him. It’s thick as a nail and sends shooting pain through his arm when he changes position. There’s a television in the room, but the volume is usually turned way down, so David just sits there in a recliner and tries not to move too much. It leaves him exhausted, sore, and hungry, and he doesn’t like to drive after he gets treatment. He rarely drives anyway.

David dialysis

“I’m scared to,” he says.

He could get pulled over, and then the cop might run a background check. David lives in Los Angeles, his home for half a century. He didn’t used to be afraid to go out on the road. Though he entered the country legally with his family in 1967, David — who asked not be identified by his real name — is now considered an illegal immigrant.

These days, he spends most of his time inside, watching television, keeping up with the news and cooking. Occasionally he cleans, but he has trouble getting around, so he doesn’t do it often. It’s not fear of prison keeping David cooped up indoors. He’s been behind bars, several times actually. But the possibility of getting deported back to Mexico terrifies him.

If it happened again, it’d be the fourth and final time, he says. A lot of things would have to go wrong for that to occur, but the stakes are high, and very real.

If he’s caught, he’ll serve time — 10 years, the cops told him. In fact, illegal re-entry into the United States by someone previously deported for a crime is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. After that, he’d be deported, again.

“I’ll die if I go back.”

How would he survive in Mexico? His whole family is here in the states. He doesn’t work anymore, he can’t, but he gets a check from the VA — every first of the month — and that’s where he goes for his kidney failure treatment. He’s covered, 100%, but there are no VA hospitals in Mexico and David is uninsured and afraid that his health will worsen if he’s deported.

“I know I’m breaking the law,” he says, “but what else can I do? I’ve been here for 50 years already.”

David is one of hundreds of military veterans who have been deported from the country they served. In 2015, as many as 65,000 residents with green cards — which allow them to live and work in the states legally — were serving in the armed forces. And while the military can be a fast-track to citizenship, it’s not guaranteed. Service members still need to apply for it, and not all of them do. David never got around to it.

“I know I’m breaking the law,” he says, “but what else can I do? I’ve been here for 50 years already.”

Immigrants legally living in the United States who are convicted of what are called aggravated felonies — which can include anything from a bar fight or drug possession to forgery or any theft resulting in a sentence of more than two years — may lose their status as legal residents. After their incarceration, they are deported back to their country of origin. For many, it’s a place they haven’t seen since they were children. Once that happens, it’s highly unlikely they’ll ever become a U.S. citizen.

For repeat offenders like David, it’s virtually impossible.

No one knows how many immigrant veterans have been deported in total — not even the Department of Homeland Security, the agency charged with handling and tracking these deportations. Deported Veterans Support House, an advocacy group based in Mexico, says it has helped 300 veterans who have been deported to 36 different countries. Other advocacy groups estimate that the number of veterans deported may be in the thousands.

David’s family left their home in Mexicali, Mexico, for the United States when he was 12. The states offered opportunity. It’s the whole reason people come here. “More work, more money, more everything,” he explains. “Everybody that came from another country, we came for the same thing. To better ourselves.”

David’s family lived in Calexico, California, for a time, then moved to San Diego, and finally to Los Angeles where they settled and put down roots.

“My mom and dad, they’re buried right here in L.A,” he says.

It was a family of 12 kids, five boys, seven girls. They’re all either legal residents or U.S. citizens like his four kids — two boys, two girls — and his three grandkids. David is the only one who isn’t a legal resident or citizen.

“I started using drugs, and that’s what fucked me up,” he explains. “Nobody used drugs in my family but me. I’m embarrassed. I’m the only one with a criminal record. The only one without papers.”

He’s also the only one who volunteered to serve during the Vietnam War.

He enlisted in 1974 when he was 19. Early on in his military service, David was sexually assaulted by a fellow soldier.

David doesn’t like to talk about it. It brings him pain. He enlisted because he wanted to go to Vietnam, and instead this happened. “What kind of shit is that?” he asks. The guy who did it was older than him, and was kicked out of the Air Force before finding his way into the Army. That’s where he found David.

The trauma lingers.

“I was like a new fish in the tank. I was a kid … I was sexually abused. Ever since that shit happened to me I haven’t been the same. I know that.”

David doesn’t know if the man ever hurt anyone else.

“I don’t know what happened to him. I don’t know, and I don’t want to know.”

The incident stayed with David for more than 40 years. Post-traumatic stress disorder, that’s what the VA diagnosed him with, along with other ailments relating to his sore joints and kidney failure.

David served during the tail-end of the war as a welder stationed at Fort Lewis in Washington state, and started using heroin shortly after being assaulted. He sought solace in getting high, because it felt good, and because it was available.

“The drugs were everywhere.”

By the time he left the military in 1976, David was hooked. For a while the money he made as a welder supported the habit. There was a lot of work — different jobs in a lot of different places — but after a while it didn’t pay well enough to keep pace with his drug use. Eventually, that led to run-ins with the police.

One night in 1983, David was with a girl he knew, robbing houses. She’d break in and grab the stuff; David would drive. This time, although they got away as usual, someone got a look at his plates. That was enough.

“Heroin, it takes away your freedom, your family, your money, your job, everything.”

He was arrested for breaking and entering, which earned him two years in a prison in Tehachapi, California. His conviction meant he lost his status as a legal resident, so after he served his time, David was picked up by Immigration and Custom Enforcement agents and deported.

After he was dropped off in Tijuana, Mexico, David turned around and came back the same day — he went right through the entry point into the United States.

“I crossed the border like nothing. Like an American citizen. They let me go right in.”

But by 1986, he was back in the same spot. This time it was for breaking into a car. David insists that he was just an unwitting participant. “I was hanging with the wrong people,” he says. “Every time that something happens to me, it’s someone else. It’s just the way it is with me.”

The second time bought him another two years at Tehachapi, but he was out in one. ICE agents dropped him off in Nogales. And just like before, he turned around and came right back across the border.

In between his visits to prison, David was in and out of the county jail — sometimes just for a few days, other times for weeks, occasionally months. One time, he went in for 90 days, got out and started drinking, and wound up with another 90-day hitch.

At some point after his second deportation, David did a six-month stint in the L.A. county jail. Finally, he decided he’d had enough.

“It was just too much, man,” he says. “I couldn’t even enjoy drugs anymore. So I stopped.”

By this time his first marriage was over and his daughter was a teenager. David went to a church in his neighborhood and told them he wanted to get clean, so the priest sent him to a Christian home for 15 months.

David arrest

“I got out and I was clean. I was working, I had my car, and everything. I didn’t have papers, though.”

From the late 1980s until the early 2000s, things were better. David didn’t use, didn’t drink. He found stable work in his trade, welding, and eventually became the foreman at a company in southern California. He worked there for 16 years. He remarried and had three more kids with his second wife.

Then one night in 2003, ICE agents showed up at his home. He doesn’t know how they found out he was undocumented, or that he had a record. He doesn’t remember much of what happened — just that it was late, and that they knocked first.

“I said I didn’t do nothing. They said, ‘You’re illegal,’ and I said ‘Okay.’”

David served another two years, this time for illegal re-entry, and was sent to a federal penitentiary in Arizona before being deported to Nogales. And once again, he came back, though the border crossing was more difficult and more costly than it had been in the 1980s.

David says he met a group of guys in Mexico who charged him $2,000 before taking him to an opening in the border fence. From there, he made it back to Los Angeles, but things were different this time. His work disappeared. He and his second wife divorced. And later that year, the health problems began.

These days, David lives alone.

He has a lot of time to think about the mistakes he’s made and there’s a lot of regret, especially about his drug use.

“That was my life” he says. “I messed up. What I was doing is heavy. Heroin, it takes away your freedom, your family, your money, your job, everything … It’s nasty man. I learned to stay away.”

“This is my country,” David says. “I know it’s illegal being here. I feel bad, but I don’t have a choice.”

An illegal immigrant in a country he once served, he considers himself an American, even if he’s not a citizen, or even a legal resident.

“This is my country,” David says. “I know it’s illegal being here. I feel bad, but I don’t have a choice.”

David doesn’t like to talk to his kids and grandkids about what might happen to him if he’s discovered, he says. It’s hard to explain to them that though he’s spent 50 years of his life in the states, he’s not supposed to be here.

“They don’t understand it. They know. They talk about Trump — that he’s gonna send me to Mexico, and they go, ‘Why? What’s he gonna send you there for?’ They know, but they don’t understand.”

So he stays at home, and he waits, anxiously wondering if he’ll hear another knock at the door, like last time. He even changed his information on his driver’s license recently. He used his eldest daughter’s home address — she’s a U.S. citizen. At least that way, ICE might show up at her place first, and he might have a head’s up that they’re coming for him.

“I’m mostly just waiting for ICE to knock on my door.”

His family lives about 15 to 20 minutes away in a nearby city. He visits with them when he can. But usually, if he leaves the house, it’s to go to the VA — Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It’s a short trip by car, and he’s very, very careful to stay within the speed limit.

17 COMMENTS

Governments If You Really Want To Stop Heroin And Opiate Deaths: Then Legalize Marijuana Now

 

I know that there are folks who have read this title and had all kinds of different emotions flow over them and this is understandable. Here in the U.S. big government and big media have a long history of distorting what the truth is concerning marijuana. I credit the mainstream media for simply being stupid and running with whatever the federal government tells them. Big government and by big government I do mean from city, county, state and federal organizations where some are just ignorant, some are corrupt, and some are both concerning the concept of making marijuana legal again for the people to consume like a lot of folks do wine, champagne or beer. Yet it has been in the interest of different governments, police agencies and some big lobbyist groups to keep marijuana illegal for their own financial profits they make from such an hypocritical system. Now I know that a lot of folks who read my articles are a bit confused about my stance on legalizing marijuana or even mad at me because the underlying theme on by blog is Christianity. This is true, yet what is the title of my blog site? It is Truth Troubles isn’t it? In my belief system Christianity is Truth so truth troubles is about speaking the truth even if it is something that goes against what we hear in Church, the media, or from the government. Throughout Scripture in the Old Testament and the New Testament we are told many times that wine and alcohol were given to us humans for our enjoyment, but we are also told not to be gluttonous when we are partaking of them. God also gave mankind plants like Mandrake for our enjoyment. Remember back to the founding Fathers of Israel, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, remember Isaac had two wives of which his favorite was Rebecka and how she gave his other wife some of her Mandrake so that she could get to sleep with Isaac that night even though it wasn’t her turn? Mandrake does the same type of things as marijuana does as far as giving a person a ‘buzz’, if it is okay for the founding Fathers of Israel and their wives, you get the picture? Even here in America our own Founding Fathers like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin grew pot in their own personal gardens. Think about this for a moment, the night that Rebecca got to sleep with Isaac when it wasn’t her turn is the night she was impregnated with Jacob, the man who’s 12 sons the 12 tribes of Israel are named after. Remember that the first reported miracle of Jesus was turning water into wine and no it was obviously not ‘grape juice’ or the ‘governor’ of the party would not have referred to it as the best. As Christians we all have to quit acting like hypocrites on these issues.

 

I was born in 1956 and the first time I ever tried ‘pot’ was when I was 17, it was just some cheap homegrown that was so weak that it didn’t do anything to me. I was probably about 22 or 23 before I smoked marijuana again yet I was around lots of folks who did smoke it literally every day  when they could afford to buy it. In fact just about everyone I knew smoked it at least every once in a while. Most all of these people that I have known throughout the years didn’t even drink alcohol and if they did it was just an occasional beer. None of these people used any of the ‘hard drugs’ like Crack, Heroin or were users of pills. A lot of the people that I have known throughout my life who were able to keep smoking a little ‘pot’ in the evenings and on weekends at their homes never ever did go onto other type of drugs, not even alcohol. The Government and the big Media like to call marijuana a “gateway” drug, saying that when most people start off smoking pot that they progress into the harder drugs, the way in which they frame their argument is a lie, period.

 

The people that I know who have gone onto harder drugs like Heroin and opioid pills is because those drugs tend to flush out of a person’s system in about 72 hours. People have always throughout human history have wanted to have something they can have for relaxation and for a gentle ‘buzz’. When the U.S. Government decided to act stupid and classify marijuana a level one drug like Heroin and encouraged all businesses to start doing pre-employment and random drug screens on their workers almost all of the people that I know quit smoking marijuana because it stays in a person’s system for at least 30 days and they could not afford to lose their jobs. Most all of the people that I know who did quit smoking pot started drinking alcohol in place of it. Unfortunately there are millions of people who instead of smoking marijuana did turn to the real hard drugs. So, in a since, yes marijuana did become a ‘gateway’ drug in that people quit using it because it stayed in their systems so long that millions of people who would have never gone onto drugs other than marijuana have done so and the result is thousands of people are dying every year because of these hard drugs. Marijuana has never ever even killed one person! Now let’s look at states like Colorado since they made marijuana legal for adults, checkout the amount of overdose deaths from before they made marijuana legal and then sense they made it legal. I am no computer whiz to say the least so I will leave your investigations up to you, but I do ask you to check out the stats. I remember reading a Colorado newspaper online about two or three months ago concerning this issue and the results were rather stark, the amount of overdose deaths are way down as they are in Washington State.

 

Truth is that all this “war on marijuana” has done is to put a lot of money into drug cartels pockets and cost hundreds of thousands of people their lives. Our Nation’s policies are idiotic, un-Christian and un-Jewish as well as being immoral. If our government was really interested in cutting down on overdose deaths from these hard drugs thus cutting down on the amount of these drugs coming into our country and giving drug cartels billions of dollars each year then they would create a system where pot is treated like beer or wine. Marijuana should be made to be cheaper than Heroin, Morphine or Crack. States who have actually done what the people of their states have voted for (when they have been allowed to vote on the issue, places like here in Kentucky refuse to allow a vote on it) the States have benefited with hundreds of millions in new tax revenue along with creating thousands of new jobs to help spur their economies. When our Government decided to create this “war on drugs” they through their own ignorance and hypocrisy took a benign medically helpful God-given Erb away from the people and have been the driving force behind the reason that millions of people worldwide are now dead. If our Nation was actually serious about stopping thousands of people from dying each year to drug overdoses then they need to get a clue and make marijuana totally legal in Our Country just like beer and wine is.

How Pathetic: Get Your 15 Minutes Of Fame: Act Like A Fool At A Media Event

 

America’s national media outlets are enjoying covering people who are not decent in how they treat each other. What I am saying is some people in our current culture think it is cool to act like a fool or an idiot, if it will get them 15 minutes of fame on a T.V. screen in some Country far away. Folks, if there is no such thing as ‘the aggressor’, then there is no one being injured in any way. Kindness, courtesy, decency, fellow Americans, why do we have to be known for acting like fools in front of a camera? I know that this childish behavior is not just an American problem just like Heroin is not just an American problem.

 

Those of our population who create events for the purpose of causing enough conflict to keep another person or group from being allowed their own Constitutional Rights! Every thing in the world is not always about me, me, me. That is a fact for every person on this planet. Most of you already know that this post is in response to recent crowd troubles at Donald Trump speaking events. To those who chose to disrupt other people like this by disrespecting their events, is it fair for all the people who don’t like your messages that it is okay to disrupt any or all of your events? Honor, Respect, Kindness, are they just by-gone Customs that do not matter in ‘our society’ today? There are very many very important issues that we as a Nation and as a world community need to solve and we need to do so quickly before some of our own Nations we implode. Please, let us all act like the grown-up’s in the room. The Media and the rest of us, we all need to quit playing these stupid games. The ‘Show’ your playing with not only can, it will, cost some their lives. That 15 minutes was it worth it, laying there on that slab, toe-tag waving in the breeze?

Heroin: What The Hell Are You Doing To Yourselves Folks?

 

 

For those of you who do not know me from this blog I will tell you up front that what I am going to say if from my life’s experiences now being almost 60 years old. I have never stuck a needle in me for the purpose of getting some kind of a high, or even to decrease my own pain. I have had medical people do their thing quite a few times where I felt like a wore out pin-cushion  before I got out of their care, but I have never stuck myself. I really hope that I do not end up needing Insulin shots someday. But, I have had quite a few folks whom I quickly found out where poking needles in themselves when they would get home from work or on the weekends for the purpose of getting a high was part of their normal day. As I set and watched quite a few people poking themselves or having their friends do it for them and putting them in very painful places, I had to wonder how, how and why they are where they are at this point in their lives? We hear on the news quite often now how Heroin is a major epidemic in many places in America today. I did not know until about a year ago that heroin is actually a very cheep costing drug, I had always though it would be a very expensive drug until I found out it is made from Morphine.

 

For those of you who have decided to first put a needle in yourself, I’m not talking about the first time you let someone else do it to/for you, I’m asking about the first time you yourself stuck a needle in yourself for the purpose of getting high, was it that? Was it in an attempt to get out of some type of pain, mental or physical? If there are ten million people in America alone that put that first drug, that first needle, in yourself, by yourself, are there ten million different stories? Stories of loss, of pain, of stupidity? In the ‘wired world’ about everyone has to have heard a lot of really bad things about this drug getting a power over you that you can no longer control so why? Why did you do that to yourself? All of the people who I knew way back then are gone now, old memories, I don’t know of any that made it anywhere near fifty. I have seen a few cases where people gradually got off of the drugs they were shooting up by turning more and more to the use of marijuana to calm themselves and start to see the world clearer and got themselves off of their own personal demon. I have learned and seen that marijuana is really a ‘step down drug’ that does help some folks, this ‘medication’ being illegal is insane and inhumane. There is another absolute fact and that is where Marijuana is a legal drug, pain pill use goes way down. Heroin or Morphine pills or how about the God-given medicine instead of the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on these pills, and then there is this Demon called Heroin that is killing so many people. The ‘War On Drugs’ got this part backwards folks. Drugs like Heroin are a disease on the human race  as are these millions of ‘Pill Heads’ that the system is helping fan the flames of.

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oldpoet56

oldpoet56

truthtroubles.wordpress.com/ Just an average man who tries to do his best at being the kind of person the Bible tells us we are all suppose to be. Not perfect, never have been, don't expect anyone else to be perfect either. Always try to be very easy going type of a person if allowed to be.

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