Phoenix veteran helps push Congress to bring deported veterans home


In 1998, Phoenix resident Alejandro Murillo enlisted in the United States Navy when he was in his 20s, becoming a jet mechanic during the Iraq war.

He proudly wore his uniform for four years defending the country he calls home.

That pride was short-lived after his permanent resident status was revoked following a marijuana possession conviction in California. Murillo was deported to the border city of Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, on Dec. 20, 2011.

“At first I felt anger, anguish. I didn’t understand why the country that I loved so much was expelling me to Mexico, a country that I didn’t know,” Murillo told The Arizona Republic.

United States Navy veteran Alex Murillo with the flag he was given by a fellow soldier when he re-entered the U.S. after being deported, in Phoenix on Nov. 8, 2023.

It took over a decade for him to step on U.S. soil again with the help of a humanitarian visa.

Murillo’s story mirrors that of countless deported veterans whose years of military service fell short of granting them legal stay in the country they fought for.

Now 46 and back in Phoenix, Murillo has been hard at work, joining a yearslong nationwide fight to bring back deported veterans like him.


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