Nine members of Congress, eight Democrats and one Republican, sent letters Tuesday addressed to President Donald Trump and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, urging them to stop the deportation of Alejandra Juarez, an undocumented mother of two U.S. citizen children and the wife of a former Marine.
The effort was led by the family’s congressman, Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL), and Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee.
BREAKING: multiple Members of Congress led by @DarrenSoto + @RepAdamSmith, Ranking Member of House Armed Services Committee, release letters to @POTUS @SecNielsen + @DeptofDefense w plea to stop deportation of Alejandra Juarez, military spouse + mother of 2 U.S. citizen girls pic.twitter.com/XQblII2LCG
— Katie Aragon (@Kfaragon) August 2, 2018
“For 20 years Mrs. Juarez has not posed a danger to her community and separating her from her family will be detrimental to her two daughters and husband,” the letter states. “Thus, urgent action is needed before Mrs. Juarez is deported on Aug. 3”
The lawmakers conclude by urging Trump give his “full and fair consideration to request [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] ICE reconsider granting a stay of removal for Mrs. Juarez. Mrs. Juarez’s removal would only serve to send the wrong message that military families will not be supported despite their great sacrifices to our nation. We should strive to reunite families, not tear them apart.”
To help Juarez’s case and others in her situation, 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.
As ThinkProgress previously reported, Juarez is the wife of veteran Marine Sgt. Cuauhtemoc “Temo” Juarez, also a former member of the Florida National Guard, who entered the United States in 1998 and the two married in 2000. Alejandra 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 continuously fought to stay the country for years, but a crackdown on illegal immigrants living in the U.S. by the Trump administration has left her with few options. Under previous administrations, Military Times reporter Tara Copp noted, Juarez was able to stay in the country because ICE generally deferred separations.
While family separations at the border as a result of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy have taken center stage, there is another form of family separation occurring in the U.S. among undocumented individuals who have built a life in this country for years.
An undocumented woman in south Florida 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 for. In another case, a woman was deported to Venezuela after living in the country for 20 years. During her time in the U.S., she had received a university degree, held a good job, owned a home, and built a quiet life with her husband and two children.