Every year in May, the United States celebrates the commitment and support partners offer their military spouses with National Military Spouse Appreciation Day. Next year, when the national holiday is being observed, Alejandra Juarez, an undocumented immigrant who has been married to her husband, former Marine Sgt Cuauhtemoc “Temo” Juarez, won’t be around. By then, the mother of two who has lived in the United States for two decades will have long been deported to Mexico.
Alejandra Juarez is being expelled 20 years after she entered the U.S. as a teenager.
Juarez crossed the border from Mexico twenty years ago in 1998 with a coyote. Soon after, in 2000 she married Cuauhtemoc who is a former Marine Sergeant. For four years and two deployments to both Africa and South America, Juarez supported her husband who served as an infantryman in the Marines as well as their two children. Up until recently, she has continued to serve the country by supporting her husband during his times of service as a US marine national guardsman.
On Wednesday, Juarez and her family learned that her final application for a deferment of removal proceedings against her was rejected.
Juarez and her husband were both born in Mexico. While he came to the U.S. as a legal immigrant she arrived undocumented. Still, despite her status, lawyers told her that she was not at risk of deportation. “For the last four years I have been told that I wasn’t a priority, I have no criminal record, I’m a military spouse, I’m untouchable, don’t worry, you’re fine,” she said in an interview. Since 2013, after she was flagged as undocumented during a traffic stop she received check-ins with Immigration and Customs Enforcement twice a year.
“When I think about the service my husband has given this country it just breaks my heart,” Juarez said. “They try and punish me for something that happened a long time ago, but they’re not punishing me, they’re punishing my husband, my kids. It makes you think if it’s really worth fighting for this country when it comes down to this, putting your life at risk for a country that doesn’t take your service into consideration.”
Now, Juarez, who was born in the United States, will leave her husband and her 16-year-old daughter Pamela with her nine-year-old daughter Estela,
“Estela wants to stay here but is too young to take care of herself,” Juarez explains. “She needs her mom. Pamela is very kind and wants to take care of her but she’s 16 years old. She is a teenager, she has a future here, she’s taking college classes, and wouldn’t have that in Mexico. Even though it’s hurting me and it’s burning me alive, I have to think about what’s best for her.
Speaking on the current White House administration’s policies which ordered her deportation, Juarez says, “You see Trump on TV. ‘I love the military,’ he says – he brags about how much. But there are 11,000 military spouses like me. It has to do with this government not caring.”