Fabian Rebolledo poses in his military uniform in San Ysidro, moments before crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. (UC Irvine Immigrant Rights Clinic) Eight years after immigration officials detained Fabian Rebolledo in his Baldwin Park home and deported him to Tijuana, the U.S. Army veteran has returned home.
Rebolledo crossed the border at San Ysidro on Wednesday morning, proudly wearing his Army uniform. It was the culmination of a years-long battle by the UC Irvine Immigrant Rights Clinic, which was able to reopen the case in December and regain his green-card status in August.
“It took a few weeks to make preparations, but he was able to cross through today, and he’s now in the U.S. and reunited with his family,” said Annie Lai, a professor and co-director of the immigration clinic.
Rebolledo was recruited into the military as a young man. He served at Ft. Bragg and in 1999 was deployed to Kosovo, where he was a peacekeeper who retrieved bodies of villagers killed by Serbian forces. Upon his return to California, his Kosovo experience began haunting him. He sought help for post-traumatic stress disorder and struggled with alcohol, leading to a series of DUI charges.
The veteran still worked diligently to care for his family and obtained several jobs. But in 2007, a check he received from one employer turned out to be fraudulent — that would be the offense that led to his deportation.
In Tijuana, Rebolledo slept on the streets and in shelters before finding more permanent housing with another deported veteran. […]