We know the U.S. government has a history of not keeping their promises to veterans. When it comes to undocumented members of the armed forces, those who served to gain citizenship, the government has, at times, denied their access to get proper documentation. They have also turned their back on fallen soldiers. In 2010, 22-year-old Army Pfc. Barbara Vieyra died while serving in Afghanistan. Vieyra left behind her young daughter and her husband, Jose Gonzalez Carranza. Carranza, an undocumented immigrant from Veracruz, Mexico, was told that he wouldn’t have to worry about deportation especially because he was responsible for his daughter. He was granted a “parole in place,” which allows undocumented immigrants to remain in the country.
For a couple of years, all was well, that was until late last year. A judge, for reasons unknown, ordered his deportation. That order was mailed to Carranza’s old home address, which means Carranza never got the letter and never showed up to court. His no-show in court indicated that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was now able to arrest him, which they did on April 8. Even though he had that “parole in place” he was ordered to be deported. For a couple of days, Carranza lived in a shelter across the border in Nogales, Mexico. His daughter had to live with her grandparents, and Carranza had no idea if he’d ever see his daughter again.
“There are plenty of people you can go after but not a guy whose wife died in Afghanistan,” Carranza told Azcentral.com. A couple of days after his story got published in a local media outlet, ICE reversed the order of deportation and allowed him to return to the U.S.
Thanks to his legal representation and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Carranza is now back at home with his daughter and is awaiting a court hearing hoping to get that “parole in place” status back.
“It’s the height of cruelty for ICE to deport the father of a child whose mother died while serving in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan,” Cecilia Wang, deputy legal director at the ACLU told the Azcentral.com. “The government can exercise its discretion not to pursue deportation against the sole remaining parent of a U.S. citizen child under these circumstances.”
Carranza’s lawyer, Ezequiel Hernandez, told CNN, he hasn’t been given a reason why his “parole in place” was vetoed in the first place.
“The government never revoked the (parole-in-place),” Hernandez said to CNN. “They detained (Carranza) because of the order of removal done due to the court hearing my client did not go to because he did not know. As of today, we do not know why the client was removed,” and added. “I don’t know if they confused the papers or just didn’t follow orders,” Hernandez said.
Whatever the reason is that ICE messed up, this little girl and her father have had enough heartbreak and trauma in their lives. They don’t need anymore.