Senator John Kerry announced this morning that he is working to prevent US officials from deporting Yaderlin Hiraldo, a woman from the Dominican Republic whose husband has served two tours of duty in Iraq and is currently missing in action. Even FOX News has picked up on this one, noting that both Senators Kerry and Kennedy have gotten involved, as the MIA soldier is from Lawrence, MA.
Vincent Morris, a spokesman for Kerry, said the senator is also looking into whether this is a more widespread problem in the Army.
Kerry said it is unconscionable for the Department of Homeland Security to deport the missing soldier’s wife under the current circumstances, and asked the agency not to take any action until her husband is found. The couple were married in 2004.
“Under no condition should our country ever deport the spouse of a soldier who is currently serving in uniform abroad,” Kerry said. “I feel even more strongly in this case, given the terrible uncertainty surrounding Army Specialist Alex Jimenez, who has been missing since May. Our country owes a special debt of gratitude to anyone who puts their life on the line by wearing a uniform and fighting overseas on behalf of the United States. My heart goes out to the family of Specialist Jimenez and I am determined to do everything in my power to make sure his wife is not deported from our country while our military is frantically searching for him.”
Senator Kerry’s letter to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff is below:
June 20, 2007
The Honorable Michael Chertoff
Secretary of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528
Dear Secretary Chertoff:
I write today on behalf of one of my constituents Yaderlin Hiraldo. Yaderlin entered our country illegally in 2001. She was married to Army Specialist Alex Jimenez in 2004 and it was then that her status was first brought to the attention of immigration officials. Removal proceedings were brought against her however an administrative closure was placed on her file in 2006 due to her husband’s first deployment to Iraq. No further action has been taken since then.
Specialist Jimenez returned home from his first deployment with a Purple Heart and then returned to Iraq for a second tour of duty. On May 12th of this year Specialist Jimenez went missing after an attack on his unit by Iraqi insurgents. Two other members of his unit went missing in this attack, and as you know one of the soldier’s bodies has since been found but Specialist Jimenez and the other soldiers are still missing. Four other American soldiers and an Iraqi translator were also killed in the attack.
U.S. Special Forces are still searching for Specialist Jimenez. Recently his identification card was found, along with those of his unit members, in an al-Qaeda safe house north of Baghdad. An al-Qaeda front group has also posted a video claiming that they have killed the soldiers and buried them in Iraq. However no further information about the fate of Specialist Jimenez has been uncovered.
This is, obviously, a tragic situation, and Yaderlin Hiraldo and her family continue to wait for information about her husband. I do not believe that Yaderlin should have her stress and grief compounded by additional worries about her own immigration status. I request that no further action be taken Yaderlin’s case while her husband is missing in action. As Yaderlin waits to hear what has happened to her husband I ask that she be allowed to stay in our country. I believe this is a very real test of our government’s compassion for a military family which has already made enormous sacrifices for the United States. I appreciate your consideration of this matter.
John F. Kerry
Vince Morris also noted to FOX News that “Kerry’s office is “taking it one step at a time,” and could consider other options including a private bill, although this letter seemed to be the fastest method available.”
“The senator wanted to put up a bright red flag and say, ‘hold on,’ ” Morris said.