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US military veteran reunites with family at the border, his wife may have long road to citizenship

Posted at 5:55 PM, May 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-16 13:51:30-04

The Don Diego VFW gave one family a warm welcome at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.

“I just think of everything they must have gone through to get here. The fact that they have stayed so resilient, so strong while they are separated,” says Livier Lazaro from the Don Diego VFW.

Lazaro and several organizations were instrumental in helping U.S. Army Sergeant Ricardo Pineda get his wife, Veronica, and son Juan Pablo, back to San Diego. They lived in Guadalajara Mexico.

“Everything I have, everything I am, I owe it to this flag. Words cannot describe; this is the best day of my life having my family back together,” said Ricardo Pineda.

Ricardo and Veronica’s story goes back nearly 30 years. They were married in Mexico.

Ricardo became a U.S. citizen when he was in the Army, but Veronica was not a U.S. citizen ad lived in the country undocumented.

She eventually chose to self-deport and went back to Mexico, but Ricardo said their son — who also lived in Mexico with Veronica — needs a life lifesaving heart surgery.

“The medical system in Mexico is not like the U.S. He needs an open-heart operation to remove an implant,” said Ricardo.

The VFW says Veronica now has what’s called a humanitarian visa. She can be in the U.S. for a year and their son can get the surgery he needs.

“Ricardo earned his family’s right to citizenship. He protected this country. Veronica supported him through his whole career,” added Lazaro.

Lazaro plans to help Veronica become a U.S. citizen but there are no guarantees. After a year she could have to return to Mexico.

Veronica was represented by The Rhizome Center for Migrants in Guadalajara, Mexico. Her repatriation was made possible by the efforts of veterans-serving organizations in both Mexico and the U.S., including American Legion Posts 7 (Guadalajara) and 17 (Chapala), as well as LULAC and the Don Diego VFW Post 7420 in San Diego, where the family will resettle.