Saturday, May 12, 2018

New College Grad to Help Deported Vets


Photo courtesy of Alfredo Figueroa Figueroa stands next to the border wall in Friendship Park, located in the San Diego – Tijuana region. The mural behind him, titled “S.O.S. Deported Vets in Distress” was painted by Amos Gregory in 2013 and features names of veterans who been deported around the world. The upside-down flag is recognized among military personnel as a dire distress signal. Families that have been separated will meet in the park and communicate through the wall.

It is graduation season and here is another wonderful story of a new graduate.

Just south of the California border in Tijuana, a small building is a makeshift home to a small community of men, Mexican citizens who called the United States home but were deported even after serving time in the U.S. military.

It’s formally called the Deported Veterans Support House, but most simply call it the Bunker. Its residents lived legally in the U.S. until they ran afoul of the law and were sent back across the border, their service notwithstanding.

And it’s a place where Alfredo Figueroa, who graduates this week from UC Berkeley and himself is an Army veteran, sees that he can make a difference. He has visited the Bunker twice, and saw himself in the men who live there. Now, as the recipient of the Judith Lee Stronach Prize, he plans to use his $25,000 award to support veterans in exile.

The son of immigrants of El Salvador, Figueroa, a former gang member from the Mission District in San Francisco, turned his life around and now will graduate from a great university.



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