Iraq Vet Might Lose “Everything” to Deportation

U.S. Army Spc. Jack Barrios calls wife Frances his "everything.

And he needs his everything now more than ever.

The 26-year-old Iraq vet suffers from nightmares, sleeplessness, sudden angry outbursts,  aversion to emotional intimacy and other fallout from his post-traumatic stress  disorder, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Along with counseling and anti-depressants, he relies on his 23-year-old Guatemala-born wife to cope.

"She's my everything," he told the LA Times. "Without her, I can't  function."

She is also an undocumented immigrant facing deportation. Frances was brought to the United States by her mother at age 6.

A man who has given so much must now fight to keep the woman he describes as his family's "anchor" by his side. Barrios and his wife have a 1-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son.

He told the Times his wife learned about her status when she was in high school. She discovered last year that removal proceedings had started.

Barrios is among hundreds of service members fighting to legalize their spouses' status. It's a complex process that has affected their military readiness, Margaret Stock, a  lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves and an immigration attorney  specializing in military cases, told The Times.

Frances Barrios is left with few options. She cannot apply for a green card unless she returns to Guatemala. If she does that, her status bars her from returning to the United States for 10 years -- unless she receives a waiver.


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The Barrios' family attorney Jessica Dominguez told The Times that one glimmer of hope for Frances is that she has been in the country longer than 10  years. That gives her standing to seek cancellation of her removal orders by  arguing her deportation would cause her U.S. citizen husband and children "exceptional and extremely unusual hardship."

U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) conducted hearings on the issue last year. She introduced a bill that would give undocumented spouses of U.S. soldiers a path to legal status.

"It's about respecting the American soldier and the sacrifices they have made," Lofgren told the Times.

The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America support the bill.

The American Legion opposes it.

"Our soldiers fight and, in some cases, give their lives to preserve the rule of law. It seems ironic indeed that some would propose to disregard the rule of law just as another reward or inducement to serve our country," U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) told the House immigration subcommittee at the May hearing last year, according to the Times.

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