Bill Luna and Ruben Aguilar

Ruben Aguilar, 85, was born in the United States but forcibly deported to Mexico when he was 6 years old in 1933 as part of a largely forgotten Mexican repatriation program run by the American government. An American citizen born in Chicago, he was deported along with his parents who were undocumented.

Ruben could speak fluent English but not Spanish at the time, and he did not return to the U.S. until he was 18 years old after receiving a card in the mail telling him that he had been drafted into the U.S. Army.

At StoryCorps, Ruben tells his friend Bill Luna about being forcibly removed from his country of birth and about the country he returned to.

Originally aired April 5, 2013, on NPR’s Morning Edition.