Posted: Jun 3, 2010 6:27 AM by Andy Koen
Updated: Jun 3, 2010 6:27 AM
The government is seeking to deport two local Vietnam Veterans, one of them a Bronze Star recipient.
Manuel and Valente Valenzuela came to the US as legal residents from Mexico in the 1950's with their mother, an American citizen and their father a Mexican Citizen.
They grew up in American. Valente Valenzuela joined the Army in the late 6o's and served with the Airborne in Vietnam and earned a Bronze Star. Manuel Valenzuela joined the marines in the early 70's and also served in Vietnam.
For the past couple of years the brothers have been fighting deportation.
"They're trying to make us aliens, we are not aliens," Manuel said. "We are American citizens."
"I feel like my family has been defrauded, you know," said Valente.
The brothers say no specific reason has been given as to why the government is pursuing them.
One of their attorneys, Dennis Hartley said "Homeland Security has completely overstepped their bounds."
Both men do have decades old misdemeanor convictions on their records.
Tim Counts a spokesperson for US Citizenship and Immigration Services couldn't speak directly to their case, but said in general you can lose legal status for committing a crime.
"If you are here on some sort of a temporary status, whether it's on a visitor's visa or whether it's a green card holder, and you commit certain crimes, the law is very clear, you lose that status."
However, immigration attorney Robert Barron says the government's case is weak.
"Given that they both have a US citizen mother, there's the possibility that they are in fact derivative United States citizens in which case the immigration proceedings against them would come to a screeching halt."
Hartley says the brothers are preparing to sue the government for discrimination.
"We will try to force Homeland Security's hand by filing a legal action."
The Valenzuela's have written to their senators, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and even President Obama over their dilemma to no avail.
Their deportation hearings are scheduled for September and January.