Netflix’s ‘Immigration Nation’ shines a light on the flawed immigration system of the country and how it makes it worse for the people who flee their homes in the hopes of a better future. The show also uses the opportunity to shine a light on the veteran deportation issue, where people who have served in the US Armed Forces are made to leave the very country that they swore to die for. Cesar Lopez has been an active advocate for the cause. Who is he and where is he now? Let’s find out.
Who is Cesar Lopez?
Cesar Lopez was four years old when he was brought to America by his parents. He grew up in LA. As soon as he finished high school, he joined the Marines, and served for two years, from 1993 to 1995. His transition to civilian life did not go as smoothly as it should have, which eventually led him towards the one criminal offense that would change his life.
In 2000, Cesar was arrested for possession with intent to distribute over 20 pounds of marijuana found in his car. On the advice of his lawyer, he pleaded guilty, though he didn’t have to serve time. He received a one-year deferred sentence, paid a fine, and was told that the incident would not go on his record. However, it later turned out that this clause was for American citizens only, which he was not. This blunder came back to haunt him years later, but before that, he carried on with his life.
One strike was enough to make him reassess his decisions and do better. He went to school and earned a computer science degree from Western Technical College in El Paso. He turned towards social work as well, helping homeless veterans and troubled teenagers. He was also planning to open his own solar panel installation company, for which he needed more money than he had at the time.
He took a job that took him to Costa Rica as it would pay him the sum that would help him start his business. However, when he returned, he was detained as he had a criminal offense on his record, and hence, was considered a danger to the country. He was deported to Mexico, a place that he had last been when he was four, where he knew no one, had no family, or home.
Where is Cesar Lopez Now?
Three weeks after he had been deported Cesar Lopez came back to America by crossing the desert, driven by the wish to reunite with his family and go back home. He settled in Las Vegas, Nevada, and took up the cause of demanding the pardon for deported veterans, many of whom he had met in Mexico, which is what made him realize that he was not alone.
He has stood by his identity as an American and as a Marine and has even declared that if they deport him the next time, it would be in his “uniform in front of TV cameras.” He accepts that he made a mistake (the marijuana incident), but he has paid for it, and so have the other veterans, and that they should be allowed to come back home now.
Over the years, he has approached several politicians to plead his case, including almost all the 2020 Presidential candidates, asking them what they are going to do to bring the veterans back home. He currently lives in Las Vegas, with his wife, while his two daughters live in Texas.
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