Wife of US Special Forces veteran facing deportation as a result of Trump immigration crackdown

'I just feel, right now, we’re caught in this limbo'

Andrew Buncombe
New York
,Mythili Sampathkumar
Thursday 01 March 2018 22:46 GMT
Mr Trump has often spoken about the need to look after America's forces veterans
Mr Trump has often spoken about the need to look after America's forces veterans (Getty)

The wife of a retired US Special Forces soldier had been facing possible deportation, as a result of Donald Trump’s tightening of immigration rules.

The fate of Elia Crawford, the wife of Bob Crawford, who served with the 7th Special Forces Group and who still works with Pentagon as a civilian contractor, is to be decided by a court in Virginia. The Department of Homeland Security has offered to drop the proceedings.

The couple's lawyer Leticia Corona told Military Times that "once the judge approves the dismissal, this would allow [Ms] Crawford to pursue permanent legal status. While we are encouraged by this latest development there will still be a long road ahead.”

Ms Corona said a legal process exists, known as the Parole in Place (PIP) and which was introduced in 2007, which enables the spouses, children and parents of active duty soldiers and military veterans to remain in the country and apply for a green card if they entered the country illegally. The lawyer said that previously, it was a straightforward process to get a deportation order overturned to enable a family to proceed with the PiP paperwork.

That apparently changed after Mr Trump was elected to the White House and followed through on his vow to tighten immigration rules. As a result, Ms Crawford and her husband, who have two young children, have to go to court next Monday to find out what is going to happen to her.

“I know the military takes care of families – because I lived it for 20 years,” Mr Crawford told Military Times. “I just feel, right now, we’re caught in this limbo.”

Mr Crawford spent 20 years in the military and served in Latin America and the Gulf before being honourably discharged in 2006. He still works with the Defence Department, on a contract basis.

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The couple married in 2001 while he was still on active duty and deploying regularly with 7th Group as part of counter-narcotics operations in Latin America.

Ms Crawford entered the US without documents in 1999 as she fled her home country, Honduras, to escape the devastation wrought by Hurricane Mitch, which killed at least 7,000 people. Once they were married, they filed paperwork to try and secure legal residency but were told a deportation order had been issued against her.

The couple’s lawyer, Leticia Corona, told Military Times, the PIP provision had been “extraordinarily important for military families”.

“It’s a tremendous amount of stress for military personnel in general who deploy to dangerous places to be worried about their loved ones who are undocumented back home,” she said.

Major Dave Eastburn, a US military spokesman, told The Independent the Pentagon was unable to comment on the issue, or the plight of the couple.

“The Department of Defence isn’t the agency responsible for these laws and therefore not be able to respond to your query as these are all matters of immigration, immigration law, or policy,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security said lawyers from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement were in contact with Ms Crawford’s attorneys and were “working to resolve the outstanding issues”.

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