U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents notified Orlando, Florida resident Alejandra Juarez Tuesday that she will be deported to Mexico on August 3, according to the Military Times.
Juarez, the wife of veteran Marine Sgt. Cuauhtemoc “Temo” Juarez, also a former member of the Florida National Guard, entered the United States in 1998 and the two married in 2000. The eldest of the couple’s two children was just 12 months old when their father was deployed to Iraq.
Juarez’s undocumented status was revealed during a traffic stop in 2013. Apart from her illegal entry into the country in 1998, she has no criminal record.
The mother of two has fought for her right to stay in the country for years, but a crackdown on immigration by the Trump administration has left her with no other choice. Under previous administrations, Military Times reporter Tara Copp notes, Juarez was able to stay in the country because ICE generally deferred separation.
“Alejandra deserves to stay in the country she has called home for over 20 years, the country her husband patriotically served as a Marine and Florida National Guardsman, [and] the only country her two American-born daughters have known,” said Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL) who represents the Juarez’s home district. “The same federal government that her husband fought for, the same country that he sought to defend, now seeks to deport her.”
Soto previously introduced the “Protect Patriot Spouses Act,” which would protect the spouses of a U.S. citizen who served, or is currently serving, in the armed forces. The bill has received bipartisan support, but has yet to be taken up by committee. Juarez’s attorney claims this is why ICE is moving forward with her case.
“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,” the attorney told the Military Times. “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.”
Juarez’s eldest daughter will remain in the states to finish high school and save up money at a restaurant job so that she can visit family members in Mexico. The youngest daughter will return to Mexico with her mother, as her father is on the road frequently and cannot properly look after her.
While this family separation was not directly caused by the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy at the border, it underlines the fact that many people who have lived in the United States for years are also being targeted and deported for their undocumented status as a result of an empowered ICE presence.
An undocumented woman in Miami was recently deported over a two-decades old marijuana case — a case for which she pleaded guilty, cooperated with prosecutors and successfully served five years of probation.
Another woman was deported to Venezuela after living in the country for 20 years. She had received a university degree, a good job, a home and built a quiet life in the states with her husband and two children.
These cases come as the Trump administration is grappling with how to deal with the roughly 463 parents who separated from their children at the border and were subsequently deported without them. Of the thousands of children between the ages of 5 and 17 who were separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months, only 1,012 have been reunited.