[FoRK] Quote of the day

Sat N <sateesh.narahari at gmail.com> on Wed Oct 3 15:18:33 PDT 2007

"Defending the country that's trying to kick my family out is a
thought that always runs through my mind."


U.S. sailor: Don't deport my wife
>From Thelma Gutierrez and Wayne Drash

JACKSONVILLE, Florida (CNN) -- Eduardo Gonzalez, a petty officer
second class with the U.S. Navy, is about to be deployed overseas for
a third time. Making his deployment even tougher is the fact his wife
may not be around when he comes back.

Mildred and Eduardo Gonzalez worry about what would happen to their
family if she is deported.

His wife faces deportation to Guatemala -- her home country that she
hasn't seen since 1989. He also doesn't know what would happen to his
young son, Eduardo Jr., if that happens.

"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."

Gonzalez, who works on helicopters that bring cargo, supplies and
military personnel in and out of Iraq, testified before a House
Judiciary Committee panel last month, detailing his situation and
urging officials to consider some sort of policy to deal with cases
like his, where military members' families could be deported while
they're defending their country overseas. Video Watch "they're tearing
families apart" »

"I want to serve my country 100 percent. But with this issue in the
back of my mind, I feel I can't do that," he testified on September 6.

The U.S. military does not have a policy to deal with such cases. Each
is handled case-by-case, not by the military, but by immigration
authorities. The government doesn't have numbers on how many military
members are in predicaments similar to Gonzalez's.

Immigration officials also said marrying a U.S. citizen does not mean
the spouse is automatically entitled to U.S. citizenship or permanent
legal status.

Lt. Col. Margaret Stock, a member of the U.S. Army Reserves who
teaches immigration law at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point,
New York, said she believes there should be an overall policy dealing
with the potential deportation of family members of active duty
military members.
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Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET
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"You got to understand. When you're in a combat zone, you need to be
focusing all of your energies on fighting the enemy. You can't be
worried that your loved ones back home could be shipped off to a
foreign country where you're never going to see them again," she said.

Stock also said the government is conflicted about how to treat such
cases. On the one hand, the government is supposed to be providing
military families with assistance, housing and other forms of benefits
while their spouses are overseas. On the other hand, the same
government is trying to deport the very same people.

"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.

In Gonzalez's case, his wife, Mildred, came to the United States with
her mother in 1989 when she was 5 years old. They were granted
political asylum because of their status as war refugees from

In September 2000, Mildred's mother applied for legalization and
included her daughter in that application. Her mother was granted
legal status in July 2004, according to Gonzalez.

However, six weeks earlier, Gonzalez and Mildred got married,
canceling Mildred's ability to apply for legal status through her
mother because she was no longer an unmarried daughter under the age
of 21. As a result, her legal status still remains in jeopardy.
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A judge in June granted her a one-year extension to remain in the
United States. If her legal status does not change by June 8, 2008,
she will have 60 days to voluntarily leave the country or face

That's just fine, according to Mark Krikorian, the executive director
of the Center for Immigration Studies, which lobbies for tougher laws
on illegal immigration.

"What you're talking about is amnesty for illegal immigrants who have
a relative in the armed forces, and that's just outrageous," he said.
"What we're talking about here is letting lawbreakers get away with
their actions just because they have a relative in the military. ...
There's no justification for that kind of policy."

Gonzalez said that type of response is unjustified. "I'm trying to
make his country better -- my country better -- and it should be her
country too."

Gonzalez himself entered the country legally, crossing the Mexican
border with his family when he was about 10. He joined the Navy as a
so-called "green-card sailor" and became a U.S. citizen in July 2005.
The military does accept some immigrants who aren't U.S. citizens.

"I understand the laws have to be followed and guidelines and a system
must be maintained, but on the other token, there are times when the
situation is just out of their reach," Gonzalez said.

His wife, Mildred, added, "We didn't come here to break the law. We
just want to feel safe and have a home just like everybody else."

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."

That's a sentiment echoed by Gonzalez: "We are not asking for
anything. We are just asking for our families to stay with us."

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