Veteran from Compton creates support home for deported vets in Mexico

TIJUANA, Mexico (KABC) -- A former Compton resident and veteran set up a support system in Tijuana, Mexico, to help out other veterans who have been deported.

Edwin Salgado served as a Marine in Iraq and grew up in Santa Ana. His 2-year-old daughter Paulina still lives in Orange County. But now, Edwin lives in Mexico.

After serving time in the U.S. for a drugs and weapons charge, he was deported. And Edwin is one of many veterans who has been sent back.

"When ICE first came to see me, I kind of laughed, I thought, 'What's wrong with these guys? I'm a combat vet,'" he said.

But thanks to former Compton resident Hector Barrajas, Edwin and many other vets receive aid at the Deported Veterans Support House.

Barrajas, who is also a deported veteran, set up the system.

"Most people need to be educated because they think that deported veterans served illegally," he said.

Mario Rangel served in the 82nd Airbourne after growing up in Boyle Heights. He's now separated from his family.

"I didn't give the ultimate sacrifice by being down here. I wish I would have," he said.

In order for the vets to leave Tijuana and head across the American border, they'd need help from Congress.

A delegation of Democrats from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus traveled to Tijuana to show their support. Among those Democrats is Congressman Lou Correa from Santa Ana.

"If you're a resident, you served in American forces, then why not give you citizenship? You've earned it," he said.

Also visiting was Nanette Diaz Barragan from San Pedro.

"We're going to work to write a letter and do whatever we can to make sure (Barrajas) gets his citizenship because he deserves to be home with his family," she said.

But not everyone agrees. In a Skype interview with Ira Mehlman, of the Federation for Immigration Reform, he said undocumented immigrants still need to abide by the law.

"You have to stay out of legal trouble. You cannot go out and commit crimes in the United States. If you do, you are subject to deportation," he said.

So as many of the veterans wait for help from Washington, Edwin said he waits to hug his daughter again.

"I miss her. I miss her and I love her," he said.
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