Raul Rodriguez spent decades of his life serving the people of the United States. As a member of the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) he served on the front lines fighting against the drug cartels and illegal immigration. He had deported thousands of illegal aliens, and by department standards, he did his job well.
Suddenly in April 2018, everything changed.
An investigation into Rodriguez was spurned by his attempts to submit a visa application for his brother. It was during this investigation that they learned of his illegal birth certificate. Confronting his father, Rodriguez learned that he had been born in Mexico, and his life was a lie. Placed on administrative leave until 2019, Rodriguez now survives off a small Navy disability.
His service from 1992-1997 as a member of the Military Police for the US Navy. Stationed in Jacksonville and San Diego, his time also saw him deployed to Iceland and the Persian Gulf. It was during this time that he sustained head injuries that have been paying the bills in the wake of this discovery. As the Navy considered his service honorable, that was the only thing not stripped of him.
This is an issue beyond Rodriguez. As the CBP discovered, and subsequently the Veteran’s Administration, he was unaware of his status as an illegal alien. His family had lied to him, and falsified paperwork had been obtained to solidify his identity. The story was well constructed too, the forgery appeared authentic.
Yet this now raises questions about the way the US government is conducting its investigations into the backgrounds of its employees. While a fake birth certificate would be expected to fool the local boy scouts and small school districts, it should have never gotten past the Social Security office for a number to be issued.
Moreover, it should have never gotten past the US Navy for him to serve this great country. Had his status been detected then, a request could have been filed for expedited citizenship for his service. It’s a longstanding program, with a high success rate. Yet nobody did the hard work to verify his information. One simple phone call 20+ years ago could have changed his whole life.
Now with CBP failing to notice this discrepancy for nearly 20 years, there need to be some serious inquiries into their vetting processes as well as the status of other employees. Considering the CBP flew him to DC in 2006 to receive an award for his efforts in carrying out a smuggling bust, their actions to laud this man should have drawn some extra inquiry into him.
The lack of oversight at every step of this man’s life is astonishing. The fact that he could spend 20+ years living and working as an American citizen, and following the letter of the law, only to learn he had been breaking it is incredible. For Rodriguez, it has led to him being shunned by one group and embraced by a whole new one.
People who had associated with him through their work together with members of the CBP now literally turning their back on him. They refuse to associate with him, some out of shame, others out of fear for their job. Yet Repatriate Our Patriots and their VP Diane Vega heard his story and picked up the torch for him. Determined to help him find a solution, they have given him a new sense of purpose, and a direction to take his life.
Having served herself, Vega knew why people turned their backs on him for following orders as they were given. It was his job. Some jobs are not the best, but we all have to follow orders. … It was always for the defense of this country. It was for the intent of taking care of the United States and its people.” This made Vega reach out, and now she and other members of the group are working with Rodriguez to find him answers.
The biggest answer he needs is how this went on for so long, with nobody discovering the truth. He’s given his adult life serving this great nation, now somebody needs to give their time to address this oversight.