Mauricio with his family

Mauricio is a U.S. Army veteran who was deported to Mexico eleven years ago despite having grown up in the United States and despite his immense sacrifice for this country as a soldier.

Mauricio had completed over 100 combat missions while deployed to Afghanistan.

When Mauricio’s case was referred to Florence Project Appellate Attorney Kari Hong, the ACLU had already been working for several years to correct the injustice of his detention, deportation, and subsequent incarceration, after he was being convicted for returning to the United States.

Kari brought a case to the Ninth Circuit Court (Cheneau v. Garland) in collaboration with partners that overturned a rule unnecessarily restricting certain people, such as Mauricio, from becoming U.S. citizens. The new rule protects people who are in fact U.S. citizens from being wrongfully deported.

That set a key legal precedent for Mauricio to reenter the U.S. as a legal permanent resident. He had an emotional reunion with his mother in San Diego, California, on Valentine’s Day, 2022. But his legal battle is far from over.

The court recognized that Mauricio is a lawful resident, but we believe Mauricio is a citizen and will continue to fight for that recognition. Even more importantly, during his decade “in exile,” as Mauricio put it, he fell in love and got married. He and his wife have a young daughter. Now, we are working with the ACLU to have Mauricio’s wife and daughter receive legal status so the family can live together in the U.S. Until then, Mauricio will remain with them in Tijuana, where they face danger and uncertainty.

“I want my family to have all those comforts and privileges that are in America — safety, education, freedom. Things that are basic to me, but that aren’t basic down here. That’s what we’re really striving for,” Mauricio says.

“What you are doing at the Florence Project changes lives. I appreciate you guys and everybody that supports you.”