- Alejandra Juarez, the wife of a former Marine and Iraq War combat veteran who is set to be deported on Friday, has written a letter to President Donald Trump pleading with him to let her stay in the US.
- Juarez believed her husband’s service and sacrifice might help shield her from deportation, but the “zero tolerance” immigration policy of the Trump administration offers few exceptions for unauthorized immigrants.
- There are up to 11,800 current members of the US military who have spouses or family members facing deportation.
Alejandra Juarez, the wife of a former Marine and Iraq War combat veteran who is set to be deported on Friday, has written a letter to President Donald Trump pleading with him to let her stay in the US, Stars and Stripes reported.
Jaurez’s husband, former Marine Sgt. Cuauhtemoc “Temo” Juarez, served in the US Marine Corps from 1995 to 1999 and joined the Army National Guard in Florida once his contract was up.
Cuauhtemoc, who came to the US from Mexico as a child, became a naturalized citizen just days before he was deployed to Iraq as a National Guardsman. He participated in brutal fighting and lost close friends during his deployment.
Alejandra came to the US in 1998 from a neighborhood in Mexico City with high rates of crime in search of a better life. But she crossed the border illegally and never acquired legal status, even after marrying her husband in 2000.
In 2013, Alejandra was pulled over by police in a routine traffic stop. This resulted in a search of her record, which revealed her illegal status in the US. Initially, immigration authorities did not prioritize her for deportation and simply told her to check in twice a year.
Now, Alejandra faces deportation and separation from her husband and eldest daughter, Pamela, 16. Her youngest daughter, Estela, 8, is set to go to Mexico with her because her husband frequently travels for work. Pamela will stay in the US because her parents fear she wouldn’t be safe in Mexico.
Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy offers few exceptions for unauthorized immigrants
Juarez believed her husband’s service and sacrifice might help shield her from deportation, but the “zero tolerance” immigration policy of the Trump administration offers few exceptions for unauthorized immigrants.
In the past, spouses of members of the US military who were unauthorized immigrants were not necessarily ignored by authorities, but they also weren’t prioritized for deportation, according to Stars and Stripes.
There’s also an option for members of the military and their families called “parole in place,” which US Citizenship and Immigration Services says is to “recognize the important sacrifices made by US armed forces members, veterans, enlistees and their families.”
But in the Trump era, such policies are evidently not being upheld. In late July, Immigration and Customs Enforcement notified Alejandra that she’s scheduled to be deported.
Alejandra, who has no criminal record, has done everything she can to stay in the US. She has consulted multiple lawyers, and her situation even helped inspire pending legislation that aims to protect military spouses from deportation.
‘Alejandra deserves to stay in the country’
In April, Democratic Rep. Darren Soto, who represents the Florida district Alejandra’s family lives in, introduced HR 5593, or the “Protect Patriot Spouses Act.” Alejandra stood beside him as he announced the bill in front of the US Capitol.
At the time, Soto said, “This legislation will give priority for residency for military spouses. No military spouse should be deported. It sends the wrong message to our troops who have sacrificed everything, and military spouses are essential to our national defense.”
Alejandra’s last-ditch effort to stay in the US is a letter she wrote to Trump begging him to let her stay in the country. Soto reportedly passed the letter on to the president as he visited Florida on Tuesday.
She then got a call from her lawyer saying that ICE had agreed to review her most recent parole in place application.
But her family isn’t particularly hopeful the president will abide her request. Alejandra’s husband, who happens to be a Trump supporter, expressed his doubts to Stars and Stripes.
“People who do business with me – they laughed [saying], ‘You are a super conservative,'” Temo Juarez said. “I told them, ‘I am eating my words.'”
Meanwhile, Juarez feels the US government is betraying her husband by not respecting his military record.
‘It’s a slap in the face’
“They are trying to punish me for what I did, but they are punishing him,” she told Stars and Stripes. “I told him: ‘You served this country three times and look what they are doing to you.’ It’s a slap in the face.'”
There are up to 11,800 current members of the US military who have spouses or family members facing deportation, according to analysis from American Families United, a non-profit immigration advocacy group.
Relatedly, the Trump administration’s immigration policies have led the government to reject more requests from veterans and their dependents for protection from deportation, data from US Citizenship and Immigration Services shows.
In fiscal 2016, when former President Barack Obama was in office, the rejection rate sat around 10%. But the rejection rate increased to nearly 20% in the first nine months of fiscal 2018 under Trump.