11,800 Military have Family at Risk of Deportation

Lawmakers urge approval of a law to protect military family members from deportation. Photo: María Peña/Impremedia

On February 28th, the Military Times published a story about a military veteran whose wife was facing deportation. The testimonial triggered confessions across the military community of military families facing separation due to an impending deportation.

Responding to the story, Alejandra Juarez, wife of former Marine Sgt. Cuauhtemoc “Temo” Juarez’s  wrote:

“My name is Alejandra Juarez and I just read your article. Today is not a good day for me, as my deportation date approaches.”

Former Marine Sgt. Cuauhtemoc “Temo” Juarez and his wife Alejandra have two daughters, ages 16 and 8. The Marine served the country from 1995 to 1999 and was later deployed to Iraq as a member of the Florida National Guard.

Alejandra, who entered the U.S. illegally at the age of 18 in 1998,  has no criminal record and has received orders to report to immigration for deportation to Mexico on June 21.

Two days ago, she traveled with her two youngest daughters to Washington to ask Congress to approve a bill that would protect her and the spouses and relatives of about 12,000 soldiers from deportation.

Meeting her in Washington, and talking with the press, Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., told reporters he and others are working on legislative changes intent on helping families like, Alejandra’s, who are in similar dire situations. H.R. 5593, the “Protect Patriot Spouses Act,” would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act since, under the current law, military spouses who entered the country illegally may not pursue citizenship without first departing the country.

“This legislation will give priority for residency for military spouses,” Soto said.

“My husband sacrificed so much for this beautiful country and for all Americans, is that the message he wants to send, that he does not care about military families?” asked Alejandra Juarez as she faced the cameras.

Alejandra Juarez and her family. “More Military Families Come Forth with Deportation Fears.” Tara Kopp for Military Times.

Alejandra Juarez’ youngest daughter also had an urgent message for President Trump:


“I know that what my mom did is wrong but everyone deserves a second chance. And she is my mom. She’s been there throughout my entire life and I want to ask that you please let her stay.”

The Juarez’ case is not unique. The Military Times published an article by Tara Copp where the writer posted summaries of many painful testimonials:

“…an undocumented husband of an active-duty female soldier wrote: “We’ve been waiting for [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] to come pick me up,” he wrote from Texas, where he manages the family when his wife deploys.”

“…a Maryland Army national guardsman and a full-time police officer was worried about his wife: “I’ve spent thousands and I am still in the process,” of protecting my wife, the guardsman said. The couple filed immigration paperwork in 2015. They didn’t get their hearing until January 2018; the case is still unresolved, he said.”

“I was deployed and worried that my wife and child would be deported by the same country I was fighting for,” the guardsman told Military Time.”

The Military Times has been a front-runner in collecting the stories and photos, and bringing them to light:

Navy Petty Officer First Class Justin Sullivan and his wife, Loretto, who are now based in Pensacola, Fla., have decided to speak out about the challenges they have faced obtaining citizenship for her. (Glenn Sircy/Navy). Justin Sullivan, the Navy Times’ 2017 Sailor of the Year, was honored for his service as a radio operator during two combat tours in Afghanistan and hundreds of hours of volunteer work at home.


According to Tara Kopp of the Military Times, Sullivan’s wife, Loretto, had qualified for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, protection back in 2014. Her parents brought her to the US from Ecuador at the age of 14, but the paperwork took seven years to process, which made Loretto, 21, disqualifying her from gaining residence through her parents. Since then, the family has faced multiple challenges and fears Loretto’s deportation.

In the article Sullivan poured his heart out:

“You can’t help who you fall in love with…Loretto was the whole reason I got Navy Times’ Sailor of the Year. She’s the one who nominated me. She took all my evals and wrote it up for me. She’s always been my rock. She’s the person I come home to. Without that, I’d be lost.”

The series of testimonies also included stories of the children of military families who were at risk of deportation. The photo above is of retired Lt. Col. Patrick Schreiber and his wife, Soo Jin. Here, the couple poses with their legally adopted daughter, Hyebin. Despite the state of Kansas issuing a birth certificate recognizing the Schreibers as her parents, the Department of Homeland Security has said there’s no legal route to citizenship for Hyebin. Once her student visa expires she will have to leave the U.S, states Tara Kopp for the Military Times.

Rep. Darren Soto (D) Florida is fighting to protect military spouses at risk of deportation. Will he have the necessary votes just in time to help Alejandra’s case? Congress has to act on it, for he told Univision, without change, for these families, there is no plan B.

Under Soto’s amended act, spouses married to active duty or veteran service members with an honorable service record would be eligible to waive the inadmissibility charge.

“My dad did sacrifice a lot for this country, so we were already separated for that time when he was gone,” said 16-year-old Pamela Juarez, supporting her mother’s case and fighting for her family to stay together.

Alejandra’s family desperately waits for a miracle. They have a strong advocate in Rep. Darren Soto: “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.”

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