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 US residency. Marco Chavez tells the AP that he's 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," says Chavez, who has been living in the border city of Tijuana. An immigration judge's ruling last month is allowing Chavez's return. It came after California Gov. Jerry Brown 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, 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." Chavez was a baby when his parents took him to the United States. He served four years in the Marine Corps and was honorably discharged. After being deported in 2002, he had to learn Spanish and find work in a land that was foreign to him. His wife initially moved to Tijuana with their sons so they could all be together, but life was too hard for the family in the violence-plagued border city. The couple divorced and she moved to Iowa with their children. Chavez last saw his sons when they visited him in Tijuana in 2013.