Valenzuela brothers, Vietnam vets from Colorado facing deportation, staying busy helping others

Author: Joey Bunch - June 16, 2017 - Updated: June 16, 2017


Colorado Springs brothers Valente and Manuel Valenzuela, Vietnam vets who could be deported under President Trump’s immigration proposals, are feeling better about their situation these days, but they’re not through fighting the war over deported service members.

We told you about the brothers, both in their 60s, in November. They have been fighting separate removal orders since 2009, mostly a battle of paperwork and occasional appearances in immigration court.

Their mother was born in New Mexico, but the brothers and most of their siblings were born in Palomas, Mexico, across the Rio Grande River from Redford, Texas. They were brought to the U.S. as children in 1955.

Catching up with Colorado Politics this week Manuel said he and his brother will held lead a ceremony July 4 at a deported veterans monument honoring deported veterans at the U.S.-Mexico border crossing in Tijuana.

Then on July 7 they will be in San Antonio for League of United Latin American Citizens conference to discuss the issues around deporting veterans for long-forgotten, relatively minor criminal offenses.

“I’m going to say we have to be aware that this problem exists,” Manual Valenzuela said of his presentation. “We need to stand up for these guys who stood up for us by serving.”

Manual was a Marine who served in Vietnam in 1971 and 1972. His older brother Valente was there in 1968 and won a Bronze Star for heroism in combat.

President Clinton signed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 that lengthened the list of crimes that could get an otherwise legal resident deported, with or without a decorated military history. Both brothers have alcohol-related incidents in their past that led to offenses on the list.

Manual thinks he’s winning, even though the court process is still pending.

“If they try to come and take me, I’ve got a lot of lawyers willing to take this case,” he said. “They’re asking for a fight.”

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.