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Ft. Bragg Soldier Fighting to Save Wife from Deportation

Ft. Bragg Soldier Fighting to Save Wife from Deportation

Ft. Bragg Soldier Fighting to Save Wife from Deportation

By Debbie Gregory

A routine traffic stop near Fort Bragg, North Carolina has resulted in the possible deportation of a U.S. Army spouse.

Army Staff Sgt. Felix Vega, who has served in the Army for almost 15 years, is fighting to keep his wife, Yadira Fuentes-Paz, in the country.

A citizen of Honduras, Fuentes-Paz was sold to a man by her mother and brought to the U.S. when she was only four years old. At 13 years old, Fuentes-Paz was homeless. A felony drug-trafficking charge at 21 led to her 2001 deportation and separation from her two young children, who were both U.S. citizens.

In 2004, Fuentes-Paz illegally re-entered the U.S. through Mexico.

Vega and Fuentes-Paz married in 2015, and she has been a Defense Department ID card holder since then.

In addition to being a military spouse, Fuentes-Paz is also a military mom, as her 24-year-old son is a Marine Corps sergeant.

“I’m willing to do anything for her,” said Vega, who is in the process of PCSing to Fort Lee, VA. “They said they were detaining her because she was a fugitive from ICE, but we were doing all the proper paperwork for her to get legal status so I never understood why they’d have her categorized under that.”

Vega has set up a GoFundMe  page to help the couple with their legal fees. To date, the fund has reached $3,400 of the $10,000 goal. 

Military spouses, parents, and children who entered the U.S. illegally are often eligible for Parole in Place, allowing these family members of military and veterans to avoid deportation and apply for a green card while staying in the U.S. But the granting of parole in place is discretionary.  Therefore, criminal conduct, prior immigration violations, or other adverse factors that are revealed through the application process could affect the decision.

It is unclear how Fuentes-Paz’s previous felony conviction and deportation could impact her eligibility.

 

Status Unclear for Program that Stops Deportations of Troops’ Relatives

parole in place

By Debbie Gregory.

Immigration advocates want to know whether a program blocking deportations of troops’ family members has been shut down as part of the White House’s crackdown on illegal immigration.

In a press release issued on February 23, Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas said, “Our military families are examples of resilience and sacrifice for all of us to follow. Out of respect for their service, and to preserve military readiness, until recently we protected them regardless of immigration status through the Parole in Place program, by giving them a chance to apply for a green card while living in the United States.” He continued, “It’s common decency and common sense: how could a soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine focus on their duty, when their spouse or child could be deported at any time?”

Department of Homeland Security officials haven’t announced whether the Parole in Place program, enacted in November 2013 as a military readiness initiative, will affected by recent executive orders issued by President Trump. The orders don’t specifically mention the Parole in Place program.

At the start of the program, officials called it a critical step towards keeping servicemembers focused and ready to defend America.

White House officials referred all questions on the Parole in Place program to Homeland Security officials.

Cuellar said he wants Trump to give assurances that as president he is committed to protecting the families of immigrants who have volunteered for military service.

“I call on the President to formally clarify that his administration will not take these protections from the families of our troops,” Cuellar said. “If he will not, then just like when he attacked Gold Star parents during his campaign, he has put political showmanship ahead of our servicemembers and their families. That’s against American values and dangerous to our national security.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.