There are few things as patriotic in the United States as celebrating our military. Our servicemen and women serve and protect the nation, but for many of them, their personal lives are in jeopardy. An estimate by one non-profit advocacy group for immigrants, American Families United, believes about 11,800 military members may have spouses that are having issues with immigration law. In the past, this was not as large an issue for them due to policies in place, but the changing environment has changed their status. For many, the zero-tolerance immigration policy is something to fear.
How Has the Zero-Tolerance Immigration Policy Affected Military Families in the US?
Currently, members of the military that are under active duty have legal protection. They had to show proof to enlist that they are legally in the country. The same is not true for their spouses. As mentioned, there are estimated to be around 11,000 undocumented spouses married to members of the military. In 2017, ICE increased the deportation of undocumented immigrants 37 percent compared to the number in 2017. Based on the zero-tolerance immigration policy in place, this number doesn’t seem to be declining any time soon. None of the groups that monitor the military or illegal immigrants have a figure for the number of military families facing deportation for a member. This information is not tracked, but there are some stories of this occurrence making the news.
Alejandra Juarez’s Story
Alejandra Juarez is a mom and a military wife. She’s also in the country illegally and had been under the parole in place program. She was put in the program after 2013 during a traffic stop that it was found that she was here illegally. During the four years before President Trump was in office, she had a sliver of safety. She as told that she wasn’t at risk for deportation. She was a military spouse with no criminal record.
Due to the zero-tolerance immigration policy under the Trump administration, this is no longer the case. Alejandra Juarez and her American citizen youngest daughter is returning to Mexico. The family didn’t know what to do, but make the decision that Estela would travel with her mother. Their older daughter was willing to step up to allow her sister to stay, but as she’ll be taking college classes, her parents felt Pamela should stay in the United States.
Both Alejandra Juarez, and her husband, Cuauhtemoc or Temo, came to the United States when they were younger as they’d been born in Mexico. Temo came to the United States as a child in a legal route and was naturalized in 2002 before going to Iraq. Alejandra came as a teenager seeking to escape the crime-ridden area she lived in. During the 18-years the couple was married, she remained illegally here in the United States. Now, the entire family is being split into two. The irony in this situation is that Temo voted for Trump.
What Does the Future of These Families Entail?
For many of these families, the future entails worry and distrust. They no longer can feel as though they have some protection as being part of a military family. Many individuals that don’t have criminal records are being deported back to the country they arrived from. It can be a scary time for these individuals because it is not hard for them to see themselves in the same situation as Alejandra Juarez. There is no certain future right now. They have to always worry that the next knock on the door may start a chain of events. A chain of events that cause them to have to determine where their children are going to live.
A Florida congressman, Darren Soto, is working on a potential political fix for military families potentially facing problems from this zero-tolerance immigration policy. It is the Protect Patriot Spouses Act and has some bipartisan support. The Democratic congressman has not yet gotten enough backing to move forward with his act. It doesn’t have enough backing at this time. There is hope that eventually this may change. Congressman Soto is continuing his efforts on behalf of the Jaurez family and other families hurt by this type of policy.
What Can Be Done?
If you or a loved one is here illegally, and are worried about deportation, it can be helpful to speak to an experienced attorney. You may not currently be in the spotlight of ICE agents, but you can feel better about your future. Speaking with an experienced legal professional can help you to make a plan on what to do next. You’ll be able to learn about your rights and options.
The Henner Law Group, P.C. is here to help in cases of deportation and removal. Contact us today to discuss your situation. You can gain peace of mind by learning more about what potential path you should take forward.