CHICAGO (WLS) --A group of veterans left for Washington, D.C., Sunday on a mission.
Two brothers who served in Vietnam are among those now fighting deportation. On Memorial Day, they will take their battle to stop the deportation of all veterans to the nation's capital.
A federal law allows the government to deport non-citizens who have committed crimes, even misdemeanors. Military families and veterans are not exempt.
The Valenzuela brothers served in Vietnam. Valente, a Bronze Star recipient, was a soldier in the Army. Manuel, was a Marine, while they fought for their country. The brothers are now waging a war against the policy after the Valenzuelas received deportation notices in 2009.
Years ago, the Valenzuelas pleaded guilty to misdemeanors. Manuel pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Valente pleaded guilty to domestic violence. The brothers were born in Mexico to a U.S.-born mother. They moved to America as toddlers. They were always told they were U.S. citizens.
"In the military, they told us, don't worry, you are an American citizen, you don't have to worry about it," Manuel Valenzuela said.
The Colorado residents are in Chicago to bring attention to what they say are thousands of veterans who have been deported or are facing deportation to Mexico.
"The only benefit a deported veteran has when he is deported out of this country is that he can be brought back in a coffin," said Valente Valenzuela.
Ashley Sietsema's family is also fighting threats of a deportation. Sietsema was 20 when she was killed in Kuwait in 2007 while serving in the Army. A couple years later, the DeKalb native's father was served a deportation notice from the U.S. government. Ever since, Sietsma's mother, a U.S. citizen, has been fighting to keep her husband here. Years ago, Segura's husband pleaded guilty to a felony.
"My husband made a mistake, he paid for his mistake a long time ago, why do we have to be separated from family, when he has done everything?" Olivia Segura, Sietsema's mother, said.