Alfredo Figueroa (2018)

Keeping Our Promise to Deported Veterans

Imagine having risked your life for a country that later deports you. There are men and women who swore an oath to protect and serve the United States, but that loyalty was not returned and they were banished. This project aims to raise awareness and funds in the Bay Area for men and women who served in the military but were later deported. My efforts will serve as a branch of a larger movement that strives to change immigration policy, halt the deportation of immigrants that served (or are currently serving) in the armed forces, and pass legislation to bring back veterans who were deported.

Issues regarding legality and citizenship have dominated the lives of millions of immigrants.  Non-natives who served this nation are not exempt from unjust immigration policies that result in the separation of families and the denial of valuable resources such as healthcare, food, and shelter. Keeping Our Promise to Deported Veterans is a project that will raise funds and awareness and focus on assisting veterans with homelessness, food security, access to healthcare and VA benefits. It is our obligation, not only as citizens, but human beings to not abandon those who have served. This project’s energy derives from the belief that it is our responsibility as citizens to hold our government accountable and ensure that every person is treated with respect and dignity.

Biography

I was born and raised in the Mission District of San Francisco. My parents did everything possible to ensure that I went to a “good” school. It was important to my parents that I get an education because they were robbed of that opportunity in their country. Both my parents fled the country of El Salvador because of a brutal civil war in the 80’s, which was the product of U.S. and U.S.S.R. intervention.

Despite my parent’s efforts, I found myself in between a rock and a hard place. Systemic and individual racism kept my family and I living on the margins of U.S. society. I quickly became a statistic because I was incarcerated twice and dropped out of high school. At the age of 17, I joined the Army because I truly believed that it would be my ticket out of the “hood.”

Military service was a double edged sword for me. It took me out of one toxic environment but quickly threw me into another. War changed my life completely, but it also had a large hand in shaping who I am. I experienced the best and worst moments of my life while in the military. My experiences showed me that life can be very short and dangerous, but beautiful and worthwhile at the same time.

After my military service I came home and refused to go to school. My experiences from childhood left a deep scar that made me believe that school was not meant for a person like myself. That thought has not changed. Nonetheless, my desire to change the institutions that affect my life on a daily basis is what drove me to go to school. I graduated from my community college with full honors and was accepted into Cal. My efforts and triumphs are not for myself, but for my parents, family, and community. It is my desire to always work alongside my community and to ensure that our voices are heard.

Read more about Alfredo here:  http://news.berkeley.edu/2018/05/10/grad-profile-cal-vet-supporting-deported-vets/

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