We Can't Even Live Up to Our Lies When It Comes to Soldiers and Veterans

Barring some last minute action, Alejandra Juarez, who has lived in the United States since she entered the country illegally in 1998, will be deported back to Mexico by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. She will take the younger of her two daughters with her, but the older one, a teenager, will stay behind with her father, Alejandra's husband since 2000, Cuauhtemoc "Temo" Juarez. Alejandra has no record of any other crimes besides being undocumented.

Oh, and one other thing. Temo Juarez is a decorated veteran of the Marines and the National Guard. Yeah, he served in the USMC from 1995-1999, getting deployed to places like Albania, where he helped evacuate civilians during the civil war there, and he did the same during the war in the Congo. When his Marine tour was up, he joined the Florida National Guard, and he was sent to Iraq in 2003. To say that Temo Juarez done his duty for his country is a ludicrous understatement. And now he owns a flooring business, so he's employing people in the Orlando area.
Yet, for no good reason, the United States government wants to break apart his family. They have already spent thousands of dollars on lawyers and appeals. They have reached out to members of Congress, all to no avail. Even though appeals are ongoing, Alejandra will likely be sent back to a country she doesn't know anymore.

Theirs is far from the only case of the spouses of veterans being threatened with deportation. It doesn't have to be this way. See, the military has a policy called "Parole in Place," based on a 2013 memorandum, clarifying a policy started in 2007, that "allows spouses, children and parents of active duty, National Guard and Reserve troops and veterans who entered the U.S. illegally to remain in the country and pursue a green card." Except if there are ongoing removal procedures. Then they aren't eligible. And during a time of aggressive removal, this has affected more and more military families.

It's still a complicated and, as with everything immigration-related, expensive procedure, yet that's too compassionate for some in the GOP, who have already tried to get rid of PIP. And during the Trump administration, the number of applications for some kind of path to permanent residence for spouses of veterans that have been rejected has doubled, from 10% to 20% of those requesting kindness for serving the country. Even the number of rejections for active soldiers has climbed.

Back in 2010, PIP was so uncontroversial that no less a conservative Republican than Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana supported it. Pence signed a bipartisan letter to the Department of Homeland Security that said, in part, "Many soldiers are unable to secure legal immigration status for their family members, even as they risk their lives for our country...As this country is engaged in two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we must do everything we can to address the immigration needs of our soldiers. It matters greatly that those who fight for this country know that America values their sacrifices. As leaders, it is our duty to sustain the readiness, morale and war-fighting spirit of our warriors. We must not fail them for America's future depends on their sacrifices and their willingness to serve."

Apparently now, in 2018, not so much. The representative from Juarez's district, Democrat Darren Soto, has introduced the Protect Patriot Spouses Act for them and other military families. But, so far, it has received almost no attention, despite Soto saying it has bipartisan support.

I know we're all focused, as we should be, on the migrant children who were separated from their parents by the breathtakingly cruel Trump administration. But the savage indifference of our snarled immigration system to the very soldiers who Republicans profess to admire is another story worth hearing. For Alejandra Juarez, it will be a forced separation as much as if her teenage daughter was taken from her at the border.