Iraq war veteran Marine Sergeant Cuauhtemoc “Temo” Juarez says he didn’t think his vote for Donald Trump would harm his family. However, on Friday, his wife, Alejandra Juarez, boarded a plane for Mexico, under threat of deportation.
The military veteran pleaded for his wife, as did his congressional representative, Darren Soto (D, Fl). However, letters to the President and the Secretary of Defense didn’t change the decision.
Stars and Stripes reports that Juarez attempted to enter the country illegally in 1998, helped across the border by a coyote — someone paid to smuggle undocumented immigrants into the country.
She is accused of falsely claiming to be a citizen in order to gain entry. However, Military Times shows a different side of the story: according to attorney Richard Maney, Juarez applied for asylum and was accused of making a false statement when she mentioned attending school in Memphis, Tennessee. Authorities considered this an attempt to misrepresent herself as a U.S. citizen. In a tearful interview, above, she tells NBC that she knows she entered illegally and is ashamed.
By all accounts, Alejandra was released and told to check in with immigration authorities twice a year. She married, and began raising a family. Her husband was also an immigrant, whose citizenship was confirmed shortly after the attacks on September 11, 2001, and who joined the military and was deployed to Iraq a short time thereafter. Alejandra sought citizenship and was told she would have to leave the country and apply at an embassy in Mexico — attorneys told her that if she did, she would probably never come back.
All went relatively well until, as the Stars and Stripes article linked above documents, she was pulled over for a traffic stop in 2013, and her immigration status was uncovered. Under President Barack Obama, and with no criminal record, she was allowed to stay in the country.
Under Trump’s zero-tolerance policy this year, though, she was notified that she would be deported, and began the process of begging for her citizenship. Her application had been denied in 2001 because of the alleged lie when Alejandra entered the country, but her Congressional Representative filed proposed legislation, requested exceptions, and lobbied the Secretary of Defense on her behalf.
At last, Military Times reports, she felt she had exhausted all her options, and chose ‘self-deportation,’ leaving on a plane Friday morning “rather than be sent off in handcuffs.” Her husband, Temo, says he is a conservative who voted for Donald Trump because he expressed love and support for the U.S. military, and that he never imagined it would have a negative impact on his family.