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Deported veteran returns home to El Paso after 20 years in Juárez

EL PASO , Texas -- A veteran of the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard who served a tour of duty during the Persian Gulf war finally came home to his family earlier this month after surviving a much different kind of struggle which lasted for 20 years.

Frank De La Cruz has considered himself a proud El Pasoan ever since he moved to the community from Juarez at just 6 years old.

After graduating high school in 1989, he left to go into the service.

However, after getting into trouble with the law, he found himself deported to Juarez, unsure of his future and afraid that he’d never be able to get back home.

“I had lost all hope," De La Cruz said. "I did not have any hope of coming back.”

De La Cruz was deported in 1998 after being charged with multiple drunk driving-related offenses.

Not long after landing back in Juarez, he found himself being hunted and aggressively recruited by local gangs.

“They seek you out and try to make you do bad things which I denied. I can’t do that,” he said.

However, De La Cruz said he and other deported veterans were still regularly followed and intimidated around town as gangs saw value in their military training.

Finally in 2016, De La Cruz was contacted by Jennie Pasquarella of the Southern California branch of the American Civil Liberties Union and let her skills find him a way home.

With an energized base of legal support as well as vocal support from El Paso Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, herself a passionate advocate for deported vets, De La Cruz was finally taken across the border and given a citizenship test.

“It was so spontaneous," he said. "I did not think I was going to make it. I thought they were going to send me back to Mexico and then give me an answer later. But no, that same day I became a citizen then and there.”

De La Cruz added that his life is now transitioning to counseling, getting his drivers license, registering to vote and being a father to his three children.

He estimates that up to 15 other deported veterans just like him are still living in Juarez.

He said he will work to make sure lawmakers recognize them as well, with the hope that they too can someday come home.

ABC-7 reached out to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa about the circumstances under which a formerly legal resident like De La Cruz could be deported.

She responded with this statement:

"Permanent resident aliens must meet specific criteria to be subject to removable proceedings under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Permanent resident aliens convicted of an aggravated felony are removable. Permanent resident aliens convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude within five years of their lawful admission to the United States are removable, and permanent resident aliens convicted of multiple crimes involving moral turpitude, not arising out of a single scheme of criminal misconduct, are removable regardless of how long they have been in the United States."

"However, the ultimate decision on removability is determined by an immigration judge in removal proceedings before the Department of Justice’s Executive Office of Immigration Review through a thorough review of the individual’s criminal and immigration histories."

Michael Gordon

Michael Gordon is an ABC-7 reporter who co-anchors Good Morning El Paso weekends.



    1. Insomnia? Can’t sleep. Psycho ranting? TDS nagging you? LMAO. If there was a draft back in his day Obama would have dodged it. Move back to Indonesia.

  1. What happened to veteran help? Most of them are criminals. They hang out on street corners begging for a beer. Or are they particular to whitees?

  2. Screw the system. It’s For weakling whitees. All others must go through another system. Faggot whites have ceremonies, etc. all others must go thru another system. lol. Look at all the military decorating ceremonies. All old white maggots. Lol. Them old cowards were not the front lines. Everyone knows that.

    1. My office had about 70% hispanics, all in federal law enforcement and all would love to kick your bigot, racist ass for being an embarrassment to hispanics.

  3. No wonder Madmike and his look alike folk fighing tooth and nail. The white handouts are at stake. Fake military injuries, gravy train white section 8 handouts. The whites have won no wars! It’s been the brown and blacks that won it while the madmikes attempt to use them. It’s over. Get to the fukin back of the line Madmike. And….and ….stfu. Weak mfer!

  4. They suck the system. Stay at home queens that require maintenance. ALL THE WHITEES. Just watch them! Walking them dogs, walking them belugas, etc.

  5. Now to the virus…..the orientals are laughing at the American stupidity. Thanks to the madmikes who think they are supreme. Have to love it. You stupid ass is made up of skin, flesh, and bone.’ YOU AINT SUPREME MFER! LOL.


  7. The law needs to be changed to prevent veterans from being deported under any circumstances. Those who support such deportations need to be identified and charged with sedition.

      1. Nitwit markturner wants open borders, no walls and no deportations like a good communist. He supports illegal immigration just like that feckless libturd woman Escobar to help destabilize and bring down the U.S.

  8. Ok, a couple of key facts. Twenty years ago Bill Clinton was President. He was deported because he was in trouble with the laws. He was deported 2 years before 9/11, so he was not a combat vet.

    He has come back to the US under a Trump presidency. NOT Obama. So kicked out by a Democrat and returned under a Republican. Not any Republican, either. But Trump.

    1. Trump didn’t do shit. It was lawyers and advocates for veterans who gave this man his life back. And Veronica Escobar worked her political leverage, too. Asshole Trump never does shit that does not help him in some way. Stop praising your Racist, pig, pussygrabbing fake president. He doesn’t deserve it.

      1. Always talking out of your ass uxcrement. The guy was deported during slick willy’s administration. escoba is just a political hack that happened to be here to make a few phone calls. The action to bring this hero back had already been put in place by someone else.

      2. It was on President Trump’s watch nitwit. He is the ultimate boss of DHS, INS and CBP. et al. Whenever something goes wrong or bad you blame President Trump all the time because it was on his so called watch. What a nitwit.

  9. Welcome home shipmate! Thank you for your service and congratulations on becoming a legal citizen. You got the best gift anyone can get. My best to you and your family.

    1. Funny how the story leaves out most of the important facts that led to this man’s deportation. It’s always the justice system that is wrong and never the wrong doer. Nevertheless, the man did his time. I would have preferred to do time in a US prison than 20 years over there, so I say let the man be the punishment has been administered.

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