A Texas border guard who has turned away “thousands” of people who had tried to enter the US illegally made the shocking discovery that he was an undocumented immigrant himself.
Raul Rodriguez had served in the US Navy’s military police prior to enlisting with the US Customs and Border Protection service [CBP] but none of the routine background checks for either of those organisation revealed his true origins.
It was only when Raul, 54, tried to help his brother René apply for a visa that the authorities realised the military veteran was actually a Mexican citizen.
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Raul had never seen his Mexican birth certificate before federal investigators showed it to him in April 2018.
CBP bosses placed Raul on leave pending the outcome of the investigation, before firing him the following year.
In April 2018 Raul asked his father about the shocking discovery, and his worst fears were confirmed. The US birth certificate he’d used for decades was a fake.
He had been born in Mexico and had entered the US without proper documentation. Raul says he hasn’t spoken to his dad since that day.
The rift with his family is not the only loss Raul has had to endure. Many of his former friends in law enforcement didn’t want to know him once the truth emerged.
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And Raul’s problems had only just begun. He had helped deport thousands of people while working for US Customs and Border Protection and before that, for the Immigration and Naturalisation Service. But suddenly, reports CNN, he found himself on the other side, fighting for the right to stay in the country he had always called home.
He did gain one valuable contact though.
Diane Vega is vice president of a non-profit organisation called Repatriate Our Patriots that supports US military veterans at risk of deportation. She said she was shocked by Raul’s story.
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In all her years of advocacy for deported veterans, this was the most extreme case she had encountered::“somebody who thought they were born here, who was raised here, who served in the military and then who was told, ‘you’re not American.’”
With Diane’s help, Raoul is on the road to gaining the US citizenship that he believed he’d had all along.
But the victory is bittersweet. Because of Raul’s changed immigration status, his son is at risk of being reported – potentially separating him from his wife.
Raul says he can’t help feeling guilty at the thought of the young family being torn apart: “Even though it’s not my doing, I still feel guilty that he’s going through this because of me, because of my status”.
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