LOS ANGELES — Ashes is all that is left of a South LA home that housed four generations of the Nolasco family. A suspected electrical fire in April left the home uninhabitable.
For Elena Barajas, who lived there with eight other family members, the fire has been devastating.
What You Need To Know
- Deported veterans are hoping the Biden administration will follow through with bringing them home
- Emiliano Nolasco served in the Marine Corps and was deployed
- Nolasco was deported almost two decades ago, and he lives in Tijuana, Mexico
- Nolasco's family is rebuilding their burned home, hoping he will come home soon
"I feel sad to see everything just gone. We do not have what we used to have. We grew up here. I feel just sadness to see everything destroyed," she said.
One of the things Barajas worries about is having the house ready for when her uncle comes back home.
"I feel him like my old brother [sic]," she said.
Her uncle, Emliano Nolasco, 59, was in the Marine Corps and spent time deployed. He was honorably discharged, but an alcohol problem led to run-ins with law enforcement, prison time and 1994 and 1996 immigration laws meant that he was among the first veterans to be deported back to Mexico, where he still lives.
"It was really sad," Barajas said.
However, after two decades of separation, Barajas hopes President Joe Biden will honor his campaign message to bring deported veterans back home.
"I had hope that he was going to come home soon. This is the room where he was going to stay," Barajas said as she walked into a badly burned bedroom.
Now she is racing to fix the home in the event of her uncle's arrival.
For Hector Barajas, a deported veteran himself and the founder and executive director of Deported Veterans Support House, he hoped Nolasco and hundreds of more veterans would be home by now.
"I was expecting that it was going to be one of the first things that he [President Biden] would fix. I mean, it is bringing home deported veterans. To me, it's something that nobody should oppose," he said.
Although progress has been slow, Hector Barajas said that they are having conversations that could lead to significant change for the first time in four administrations.
"We have been speaking to Biden administration folks, Homeland Security, USCIS," he said.
Hope is something Elena Barajas is trying to salvage; after all, they are living in a hotel until they can get the house habitable again.
"Hopefully, he can come home already. Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten. So, we always have to stay together no matter what," she said.
To help the family rebuild their home, visit their GoFundMe page.