Our Stories

VICTORY! Deported US Veteran Joaqin (Jack) Aviles Returns to the US as a Lawful Permanent Resident


Jack, picture left, stands with Public Counsel Senior Staff Attorney Talia Inlender at the US border.

Today, on August 29th, 2019, Joaquin (Jack) Aviles, a deported US veteran, re-entered the United States after nearly 20 years of being separated from his family, including his two children.

Prior to being deported, Jack had lived in the US since he was 6 months old and had been a lawful permanent resident since childhood. Raised by a single father of three kids, he had a difficult upbringing and quickly learned the value of hard work. With dreams of one day becoming a law enforcement officer in his community, he joined the US Marine Corps in 1994 on a mission to serve and protect. Later, he was convicted for firearms offenses and, in 2000 at age 24, he was removed from the country. He re-started his life in Mexico, where he became a leader in the movement to assist deported veterans as the co-director of the Deported Veterans Support House.

Years after his removal, the law changed, making it so that firearm offense could no longer serve as the basis for deporting a lawful permanent resident. Unfortunately, Jack wouldn’t learn this until our team took on his case in August 2018. Last month, the Immigration Judge reopened Jack’s case, vacated his removal order, and terminated proceedings.

Yesterday, almost a year ago to the day that Public Counsel met Jack, he attempted to cross the border, along with Public Counsel Deported Veterans Project Supervising Senior Staff Attorney Talia Inlender and Paralegal Ivan Medina. They were met with some administrative barriers and told to come back the next morning. On Thursday, August 29th, at 6am, they tried again and succeeded.

“We’re excited to welcome Jack home today after so many years of wrongful exile,” said Talia Inlender, Supervising Senior Staff Attorney at Public Counsel. “We are keenly aware that many others who served the United States in uniform remain separated from their families despite their service. Our Deported Veterans Project is committed to bringing these men and women home.”

The victory comes just over a year after the state of California began directing funds to Public Counsel's Immigrant Rights Project to assist deported veterans like Jack. Jack is the first client of the Deported Veteran Project to successfully return to the United States.

We are thrilled to share that Jack is now back in the US! Congratulations to Jack and our Deported Veterans Project team for this incredible victory!

Read the full press release here

Media Coverage: 

8/29/19 [San Diego Union Tribune] Deported Veteran Finally Returns Home After Nearly 20 Years