Mauricio Hernandez Mata
“Now I am an American citizen, but I have always been an American.” - Mauricio Hernandez Mata
Mauricio Hernandez Mata came to the US at age 7. He enlisted in 2001 and believed that by swearing the oath upon his enlistment, he was becoming a citizen.
Mauricio served in more than 100 combat missions for the U.S. Army. He suffered post-traumatic stress disorder after he returned home. He said: “When I got out of the Army, I was hearing voices in my head and I couldn't look at anyone. I lived by myself, painted my windows black, and got rid of all the mirrors because I couldn't look at myself. It was such an extreme, I felt everyone wanted to harm me.”
He was deported after being convicted of drug possession. He was able to get the felony conviction in his case vacated. An immigration judge reinstated his green card and in 2022, he returned to the US for the first time in ten years, reuniting with his mother.
“If I had a second chance I would gladly do it all again – fight for my country in any conflict,” Mauricio told media. “I have always considered myself and I am an American.”
Read more about Mauricio’s story:The San Diego Union-Tribune, “‘We are not forgotten’: Formerly deported veterans become U.S. citizens in special San Diego ceremony,” Feb. 8, 2023 QCNews, “Deported Army vet reunited with mom on Valentine’s Day after 10 years,” Feb. 15, 2022 “A Portrait of Exile: Mauricio Hernandez Mata,” Vietnam Veterans Against the War