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Jun 11, 2011 8:30 PM by Matt Stafford

Local Vietnam veterans still fighting deportation

Although they've been to court four times, Manuel and Valente Valenzuela -- both Vietnam veterans -- are still fighting deportation issues. NF5 first spoke with the two veterans a year ago, and now Manuel says not much has changed.

"They still have a deportation issue on us," says Manuel.

The Valenzuelas are still arguing against the deportation with the same point.

"Due to my mother being a born-American mother, we're American citizens," explains Manuel. He says that it was a misdemeanor charge from 25 years ago that the government was using to deport him; he says it was a similar issue for his brother, Valente.

Immigration Services couldn't talk to us about the Valenzuela's case, but they say you can lose legal status for committing a crime.

"If you are here on some sort of a temporary status, and you commit certain crimes, you lose that status," says Tim Count, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

So Manuel and his brother continue to fight, but as they do they're finding disturbing news; lots of other veterans have been in the same situation.

"I have files and files of paperwork here," says Manuel. "It is, it's a shame."

Manuel says more than 3,000 veterans have been deported since 1996. The Valenzuelas are trying to help all of them.

Manuel demonstrated his cause with a banner; reading, "Stop the deportation of military veterans," next to the traveling memorial for the Vietnam Memorial as it was at a stop on Fort Carson. Some asked Manuel if it was the right place for the message.

"What place is it a right place to bring it out, and show what's happening to us Vietnam veterans," asks Manuel. He says he feels deeply for people who served with him, especially those listed on the wall; but he also has strong feelings for the people on his list, the ones going through the same thing he has.

"They would not give up for us, and I'm not going to give up for them," says Manuel.

For more on the Valenzuelas' struggle, click here.

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