SAN DIEGO — A former Marine deported to Mexico 15 years ago after he was convicted of a minor offense has won his fight to return to the United States and regain his permanent U.S. residency.
Marco Chavez told The Associated Press on Monday that he was looking forward to reuniting with his three sons in Iowa after missing their childhoods. He is now 45 and they range in age from 17 to 21.
"One of the things I wanted to let my kids know is they did have a father and I did not plan to leave them," said Chavez, who has been living in the border city of Tijuana. "That wasn't part of the plan with me and my ex-wife. I just want to be there to support them. They still might have resentment but that's understandable."
An immigration judge's ruling last month is allowing Chavez' return. It came after California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, pardoned Chavez. He was convicted in 1998 of animal cruelty for a dog beating but said another person was responsible. He was sentenced to two years in state prison, was released after 15 months because of good behavior and later deported.
Brown said Chavez "served our country, earned a pardon and deserves to come back home."