Tearing Immigrant Families Apart

Eduardo Gonzalez, a petty officer second class with the U.S. Navy, is about to be deployed overseas for a third time. What makes his story particularly saddening is the fact that while he is gone, his wife may face deportation. He doesn’t know what would happen to his young son if she is deported.

“I like being in uniform and serving my country, but if she goes back I’m going to have to give it all up and just get out and take care of my son and get a job,” he said. “Defending the country that’s trying to kick my family out is a thought that always runs through my mind.”

These cases are handled one by one by the immigration authorities not the government. It is a conflicted situation because the government is supposed to help military families but at the same time another part of the government is try to stem the illegal immigrant population.

“What’s happening right now is, because of the dysfunction and complexity of our immigration laws, we’ve got people fighting overseas who are facing the impossible situation of having family members facing deportation back home,” she said.

His wife came to the US when she was 5 under political asylum because of her status as a war refugee from Guatemala. Her mother applied for legalization with her on the application and was approved. The problem is that six weeks before the approval, she married Gonzalez. By marrying him, her mother could no longer apply for her (you have to be unmarried and under 21). As a result, her legal status still remains in danger.

While they don’t have the exact numbers this is not an uncommon experience.

U.S. Army Sgt. Emmanuel Woko, a member of the Army’s 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division who faces his third tour in Iraq, understands just how Gonzalez and his family feel. His wife and children could be sent back to Nigeria. “My heart is bleeding on the thought that my wife could be deported back to Nigeria while I am deployed in Iraq,” he said. “I am extremely distressed and distracted by the thought.”


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