A deported Marine Corps veteran who has been blocked from returning to the U.S. for more than a decade was denied entry on Monday for a citizenship interview, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Roman Sabal, who is from Belize, reportedly reached the San Ysidro Port of Entry in California on Monday morning, with his attorney, Victoria Starrett, and requested that he be allowed entry to go to a naturalization interview in San Diego later that day.
Border officials, who are able to temporarily let people into the U.S. for “humanitarian or significant public benefit,” ultimately turned away, the Union-Tribune reports.
When he first came to the U.S., Sabal, now 58, had a tourist visa and couldn’t stay permanently, the newspaper noted, adding that his goal from the beginning was to enlist in the Marine Corps.
He joined the service with a fake ID document, the Union-Tribune reported. When he came clean about it in boot camp, he was told, “Don’t worry about it. You’re a Marine now,” it added.
Sabal served in the Marines for six years and then for several more years in the Army Reserves, the newspaper reports, adding that he was later honorably discharged and returned to Belize because he had developed diabetes and sought treatment from his mother back home.
An immigration court judge ordered Sabal to be deported when he didn’t show up for a hearing when he tried to return to the U.S., the paper reports.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials on Monday reportedly sent the Sabal and Starrett back to Mexico, where Sabal plans to wait a few days for a solution before being forced to travel back to Belize.
“His attorney was notified that he should work with the Department of State to obtain the necessary documents for entry rather than seeking parole from CBP,” a U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman told the Union-Tribune.
Sabal’s attorney, however, said he already tried to get a visa through the State Department, which denied the request because of the deportation order.
ICE did not comment when contacted by The Hill.
Sabal is one of seven deported veterans with pending citizenship cases, Starrett told the Union-Tribune. He has two children who are U.S. citizens, and his partner, whom he hopes to marry, is also a U.S. citizen.