UPDATE: The wife of a decorated Marine veteran was just deported, despite efforts to keep her in the United States with her family.
Alejandra Juarez, who illegally lived in the country for two decades, was sent back to Mexico on Friday. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said that any attempts to cross the border again will result in a felony.
Her lawyers argue President Donald Trump's zero tolerance policy, which deems any illegal immigrant regardless of criminal background worthy of deportation, ultimately led to this devastating fate.
Juarez's husband admitted he voted for Trump in the 2016 election. During his campaign, Trump often pledged to support veterans, but it seems he has failed in keeping that promise.
“Mr. President, you deporting me is not going to hurt just me; you’re making a veteran suffer,” Juarez said at the Orlando International Airport. “You always say you love veterans. If you really love veterans, why didn’t you pardon me?”
UPDATE: Alejandra Juarez has decided to make one last attempt at reasoning with President Donald Trump's administration to help her stay in the country by writing a letter.
Juarez, whose husband is a former Marine and Iraq War combat veteran, is set to be deported on Friday. But with the help of Democratic Rep. Darren Soto, who represents her Florida district, she wrote to the president asking for help.
Juarez’s husband, Marine Sgt. Cuauhtemoc “Temo” Juarez, became a naturalized citizen just days before he was deployed to Iraq after being brought to the United States as a child. But his wife never sought to legalize her status, even after marrying him. Still, she said that Trump’s “zero tolerance” approach to immigration is a “slap in the face” to her husband, who put his life on the line for this country.
"They are trying to punish me for what I did, but they are punishing him," she told reporters. "I told him: 'You served this country three times and look what they are doing to you. It's a slap in the face.'"
Juarez’s husband, who claims to be a conservative, said he’s now “eating [his] words” following the administration’s focus on pushing his wife out of the country, even without any criminal record.
Before the Trump era, spouses of members of the U.S. military were not prioritized for deportation. Members of the armed forces are also given an option for keeping their undocumented spouses in America with the “parole in place” program. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, this option is meant as a way to “recognize the important sacrifices made by U.S. armed forces members, veterans, enlistees and their families."
Soto, Juarez’s representative, introduced HR 5593, the “Protect Patriot Spouses Act,” with people like Juarez in mind. Still, the undocumented immigrant and her family are not very hopeful.
In her letter to the president, she begged him to let her stay.
After Soto delivered the personal note on Tuesday, Juarez received a call from her attorney saying that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will review her most recent parole in place application.
Perhaps there’s still hope that the Trump administration will, at least, look at Juarez's situation and spare her based on her husband’s service. Bu, knowing how callous the president has been when it comes to his immigration policies, it is difficult to be optimistic.
Military Times reports that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) told Alejandra Juarez, 38, that she had nine days to leave the United States before being deported to Mexico.
In 2000, Juarez married Marine Sgt. Cuauhtemoc “Temo” Juarez, with whom she has two daughters, but ICE accuses her of crossing the border illegally in 1998.
Between 1995 and 1999, the Marine served as an infantryman and was deployed in South America and Africa. He then moved to Orlando, Florida, where he joined the Army National Guard. The couple’s oldest daughter was just 12 months old when the veteran was deployed to Iraq.
Despite his service to the country, his wife is pending removal.
In 2013, her immigration status was questioned at a traffic stop, and she was arrested. Now, ICE says she must comply with the order.
A spokesperson for the agency told reporters that Juarez was caught trying to enter the country illegally in 1998. But after being removed, she entered once again.
After her 2013 arrest, she was told that ICE would “reinstate her prior removal order."
"ICE subsequently exercised temporary discretion by releasing her on an Order of Supervision and granted her temporary stays of removal in August 2015 and August 2016. At this time, Juarez must comply with her removal order and depart the U.S.,” the statement added.
Chelsea Nowel, the family’s attorney, said Juarez has no criminal record. The fact ICE is targeting her is simply absurd.
“The United States has a lot of policies in place to protect veterans and active duty and their families, and it is absolutely, incredibly, frustrating that these are not being made available to the wife of a decorated veteran who has served overseas multiple times,” Nowel said. “We are very hopeful we will be able to work with the Department of Homeland Security and with ICE to afford her an ability to stay.”
If Juarez is deported, she risks being away from her daughters, Pamela, 16, and Estela, 8, and her husband of nearly 20 years.
Perhaps that’s the type of legacy Trump wants to leave behind: making it a priority to break families apart. If that’s the case, he has definitely succeeded.
Banner/Thumbnail Credit: REUTERS/Joey Roulette