US flag (file photo) Photograph:( WION )
The ex-Marine is trying to attract attention towards plight of war veterans who serve for US army but are then deported back just because they were born in a different country
A US military veteran is trekking 2000 miles (3219 km) US-Mexico border to draw attention to plight of veterans who were sent back to their country of birth. Ramon Castro, the veteran trekking along the border and meeting deported US veterans living along the US-Mexican border. As he met them he realised that but for a piece of paper proving his citizenship, he could have been one of them.
Castro says that even when former veterans are deported back due to infractions like drug use, a large number of the cases are associated with mental health issues.
Between 2013 and 2018, about 250 veterans were deported or placed in deportation proceedings, according to a Government Accountability Office report. Advocates say the total number of deported veterans may be far higher.
Although Castro was born in the United States, his family has sprawled across both sides of the desert borderlands for generations and he lived briefly in Mexico as a child, he told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday about 20 miles east of El Paso, Texas.
Castro served two enlistments in the Marine Corps, including a deployment to Kuwait during the Iraq war.
He says that after his discharge, memories of missiles hurtling at him lingered. Aas a coping mechanism, he said that he turned to alcohol and soon found himself in bar fights.
The behaviour never landed Castro in serious legal trouble - a privilege he knew his non-US-citizen fellow service members did not share.
Castro started his march at Friendship Park in San Ysidro, California, and plans to keep walking until he reaches the easternmost tip of the U.S.-Mexico border, near Brownsville, Texas.
A few days after Castro began the journey, the Biden administration announced a new initiative aimed at allowing some deported veterans to return to the United States.
(With inputs from agencies)