Being the wife of a distinguished Iraq War combat veteran no longer can protect you from being deported under the Trump administration.
Deportations are becoming far more common in the U.S. under the Trump Administration, even for the spouses and dependents of U.S. military veterans who have dedicated their lives to the nation. Photo: Neon Tommy, CC
Alejandra Juarez was deported on August 3 and sent back to Mexico by U.S. Immigration authorities.
She is the wife of Sgt. Cuauhtemoc “Temo” Juarez, a former U.S. Marine who fought in Iraq then became a National Guardsman.
Her history is like many who entered the United States illegally. She came here from Mexico in 1998, fleeing for her safety. She met and married her husband in 2000, 18 years ago. He had come to the U.S. when only a child but became a naturalized citizen only a few days before he shipped out for the first time to Iraq. She never became either a legal permanent resident or citizen.
Alejandra lived quietly with her husband all that time, helping raise her daughters. Pamela, the eldest, is 16 now. Her other daughter, Estela, is 8.
In 2013, Alejandra came to the attention of police who pulled her car over in a traffic stop. When they looked up her records, they discovered her illegal status.
Those were different times. Then authorities treated unauthorized immigrant spouses of U.S. military personnel differently than others. They were not scheduled for deportation and many had alternative ways to legally stay in the U.S. When Alejandra was stopped instead of being rushed to immigration hearings she was just told to check in with them twice a year.
That supportive atmosphere disappeared quickly under the Trump Administration and its crackdown on unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. Authorities have rapidly shifted away from attempting to find ways to help keep military veterans and their families together. The number affected are large, too. According to American Families United, a non-profit immigration advocacy group, approximately 11,800 individuals who are currently in the U.S. military have spouses or other dependents who are threatened with deportation.
Alejandra Juarez attempted to get help for her case, but no one in the administration seemed even willing to hear her side of the story. She spoke of what happened as “punishing [her husband] for something that I did a long time ago. His only mistake was marrying me”.
Punish they did, despite her pleas for help, the advocacy groups who attempted to reach out for her, and U.S. Representative Darren Soto, a democrat who represents the district which the Juarez family calls home in Florida. Soto has sponsored legislation which would protect military spouses from deportation, in part because of what was happening to Alejandra.
In the end, Alejandra was finally deported, on a flight from Orlando on August 3. She did not disclose her destination in Mexico, apparently because of problems with her family there and a death threat lodged against her. She went alone, but her younger daughter Estela will apparently soon follow after since her husband often travels. The family will stay broken up.
As Soto said on her departure, “It was so devastating that we couldn’t even get the Trump Administration to work on this case with a military spouse who has done everything to help her husband serve this country.”
It just shows the continued heartlessness of the current administration when it comes to the subject of immigrants. Despite the many sacrifices that both Sgt. Cuauhtemoc “Temo” Juarez and Alejandra have made over the years in support of the U.S. in the true spirit of service to the nation, apparently the nation – for now at least -- has little interest in helping out in return in even the sma