Iraq Veteran US Marine is Granted Citizenship 5 Years After He Was Forced Out of the Country
Daniel Torres lived in the United States with his family illegally since childhood and enlisted in the military using a forged birth certificate.
A US Marine who served in Iraq before forced out of the only country he's ever known when it was discovered he was an undocumented immigrant can now officially call himself and American.
Daniel Torres, who came to the US on a visitor's visa as a teen then remained in the country with them illegally after it expired, used a false birth certificate to join the Marines in 2007.
He served in the Iraq War before authorities discovered he was never a US citizen. He was not deported, but left voluntarily in 2011 after being honorably discharged from the military.
Torres, 30, has lived in Tijuana, Mexico--the city of his birth--ever since.
On Thursday, he was sworn in as a United States citizen in a brief ceremony in San Diego, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Under special provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act, people who served in the military during a period of hostility may become US citizens without typical requirements such as permanent residence in the US.
After his swearing in, Torres told reporters he'd chosen to become a Marine nearly a decade earlier to fulfill a life goal.
“When I enlisted in the Marines I knew the risks. It was something that could come up, it was something that could come back and hurt me,” he said. “I was just hoping that I wasn’t going to pay for that mistake for the rest of my life. And now I’m able to finally go home and live the life I feel like I need to.”
The ACLU says thousands of veterans have been deported, but that Torres' case is unique because he doesn't have a criminal record.
“We don’t choose where we are born. I didn’t even choose to come to this country, but we can choose who we are loyal to and I’m loyal to the United States,” Torres told reporters.
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