Andres De Leon is an honorably discharged Army veteran who served his country after enlisting to fight in Vietnam when he was just 18.
Yet, despite this, the now 72-year-old is living in a small, one-bedroom home in a poor neighborhood in Tijuana, Mexico, since being deported from the U.S., Fox40 reports.
“I feel they did me wrong because I risked my life for Uncle Sam just so, at the end, I get deported,” the former Madera, Calif., resident said.
“I got no choice,” he told Fox40. “I have to stay here, but I’m doing the best I can.”
The veteran, who served for 12 years, including two stints overseas, will possibly never again visit the U.S., his home of 50 or so years, until he dies and gets the proper U.S. veteran’s burial to which he is entitled.
When De Leon was 12, he moved to Madera, legally, with his family, eventually enlisting to fight in Vietnam.
His life crumbled, however, when his mother died, and he sank into a deep depression.
“He would take my mom everywhere. When my mom passed away, that really pushed him to the edge,” De Leon’s sister, Elizabeth, told the news station.
De Leon became addicted to heroin at the age of 63 and was eventually arrested for possession. He had served nearly three years at California’s Soledad State Prison before U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials visited him and informed him that he would not be able to return to his home in Madera.
In 2009 an immigration judge ordered the veteran deported to Mexico, a country he had not known since childhood.