Discharged and Deported: Exiled Veterans of America

Deported U.S. Army and Vietnam War veteran Jose Bustillos, 73, prays inside the Catedral de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, México, Friday, July 27, 2018.

Bustillos served in the Army between 1964 and 1967 including two deployments to Vietnam where he was sent as a mortar sergeant to provide security on base and mechanical support for vehicles that were shipped out. He received an honorable discharge.

Bustillos went on to work at the railroad and then as a truck driver, a job he kept for 20 years.

In 1997, he was arrested for driving a U-Haul loaded with marijuana and was charged with transporting narcotics. Bustillos was sentenced to two years in jail and was deported in 1999 upon completion of his criminal sentence.

He decided to illegally reenter the United States in the mid-2000s and was caught by ICE in 2012. He spent a year in detention and was deported a second time in 2013.

“I messed up doing what I did, I should have known better,” said Bustillos. “Hey, so I’m paying the price. Hopefully some day, not for me, for the younger guys, I hope they can get back and get back into the states. Me I’m 73, I don’t really care that much, but I would like to go back and visit.”

His daughter, who was about six when he left, is now 26.