Deported U.S. veteran waiting for years to come back into the United States
SAN ANTONIO -- Right now, former U.S. Marine Jose M. Martinez can't get back into the country he fought for.
"I've been here over 16 years. I live in Nuevo Progresso Tamaulipas," Martinez said.
He believes in his heart of hearts he's earned the right to live in the United States.
News 4 San Antonio caught up with Martinez on the Nueveo Progresso International bridge, in the spot where Mexico and the U.S. divide.
"I have never ever attempted to go into the United States illegally, it's not a part of me, " Martinez added.
Martinez says he was born in Matamoros, Mexico and came to the United States in 1956 as a young boy.
"My adopted parents took us, all of us brothers five of us into the United States legally with a green card," Martinez said.
The family settled in Brownsville, Texas and when Martinez was old enough he says he joined the military.
"I joined the Marine Corps in 1966, I went to Vietnam in '67, '68," he went on to say.
After seven years in the service, the combat veteran says he was honorably discharged.
"My DD-214 states born in Mexico discharged as a U.S. citizen, " said Martinez.
More than 20 years later Martinez was caught with marijuana at a checkpoint.
"I got in trouble with the law for possession with intent to distribute," Martinez said.
After serving five years in a federal prison, the man who lived in the United States nearly his entire life was deported to Mexico.
"I live by myself, all my children, all my family members brothers and sisters live in the United States, " he went on to say.
Martinez added he had a green card and believed he was a U.S. citizen.
"Because my DD-214 for me is a legal federal document," Martinez said.
He was even a registered Republican and paid into Social Security.
"I'll be 70 pretty soon, so I've got all that money there which is legally mine because I put into it for 30 something years," said Martinez.
While Martinez keeps busy running a cell phone store, he's also hopeful of a Congressman going to battle on his behalf.
"He's serving a life sentence for a crime he's already paid his time," said Congressman Vicente Gonzalez.
Last year, Congressman Gonzalez says he filed a bi-partisan bill with Republican counterpart Congressman Don Young of Alaska.
"My bill allows them to come back to our country," added Gonzalez.
The bill called Repatriate Our Patriots Act allows veterans who've served honorably to come home.
"They're not just in Mexico, I've received information from 38 countries around the world," Gonzalez went on to say.
Congressman Gonzalez says he's even met with President Trump on the matter.
"He told me he supported it, he told me veteran's shouldn't be getting deported," Gonzalez said.
Deported veterans who have been convicted of murder, rape, sexual assault of a child and terrorism will not qualify under the bill to come home.
Gonzalez says sometimes a veteran may turn to drugs or alcohol after suffering from PTSD and find themselves on the other side of the law.
The Congressman went on to say this is not an immigration bill, but rather a veteran's rights bill.
"We hope we get it through Congress and get it through the Senate and the President will sign it," added Gonzalez.
Martinez says he's waiting for the day he'll be able to step on American soil, reunite with his family, and pay respects to fellow Marines who've passed away.
"It's painful that they died for me, and I can't be there," said Martinez.
Gonzalez says he's sent letters to Governor's in all 50 states to pardon deported veterans convicted of a crime.
Martinez says he wants nothing more than to go to Whataburger and order a double meat double cheese burger hot off the grill.