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Chertoff Agrees to Kerry’s Request to Protect Wife of MIA Soldier

by Pamela Leavey

Yesterday, Rebel Reaper reported the story here of the Army wife who faced deportation, although her husband is currently MIA. I followed up on Rebel’s piece with a piece about John Kerry’s efforts to keep Army Specialist Alex Jimenez’s wife, Yaderlin Hiraldo from being deported. The whole mess was another one of those classic Bush style instances of how to “support the troops.” I am happy to report that Senator Kerry’s efforts have paid off:

Sen. John Kerry welcomed the response from Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, to his letter concerning Yaderlin Hiraldo, the wife of Army Specialist Alex Jimenez. Kerry asked DHS yesterday to spare Hiraldo, who is from the Dominican Republic, from deportation while her husband is missing in action. Chertoff decided to lift the removal proceedings pending on Hiraldo. She will be allowed to stay in the country and apply for permanent resident status. Jimenez has served two tours of duty in Iraq and was awarded the Purple Heart.

“I am relieved and gratified that DHS is doing the right thing in Yaderlin’s case. We should be doing everything we can to honor her and her husband’s sacrifice for our country. Teresa and I want to extend our continued prayers to Yaderlin and the Jimenez family at this difficult time, and my gratitude to Secretary Chertoff for a quick and compassionate response.”

The text of Chertoff’s response can be found below:

June 21, 2007

The Honorable John F. Kerry
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Kerry:

Thank you for your June 20, 2007 letter on behalf on Yaderlin Hiraldo (DHS file number A95 817 433). We at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) share your deep concern for Ms. Hiraldo’s welfare in light of her husband’s situation. With my greatest respect for her husband’s service to our Nation and my sincere hope for his safe return, I write to inform you that I have instructed U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to take immediate action to resolve her immigration issues.

Ms. Hiraldo initially entered the United States without inspection in June 2001. She sought to enter Canada on June 14, 2004. On that same day, June 14, 2004, Ms. Hiraldo married U.S. Army Specialist Alex Jimenez. Based on her unlawful status and consistent with DHS practice, CBP placed Ms. Hiraldo in removal proceedings before an immigration judge.

In October, 2005, Ms. Hiraldo sought to adjust her status to that of a lawful permanent resident based on her marriage to specialist Jimenez, and filed the relevant applications with USCIS. The approval process consists of two parts: a “petition” to recognize the marital relationship, and an “application” to become a permanent resident based on that marital relationship. Although USCIS approved the petition, thereby recognizing their marriage, Ms. Hiraldo’s illegal entry and placement in removal proceedings vested the immigration judge with the jurisdiction to adjudicate her application to become a lawful permanent resident.

When ICE became aware that Specialist Jimenez was to be deployed to Iraq in April 2006, ICE counsel jointly requested with Ms. Hiraldo’s attorney that the immigration judge administratively close the case. Administrative closure, which leaves a matter pending before the court in a suspended, inactive status, allowed the couple to pursue immigrant visa processing from abroad, and relieved them of ongoing legal proceedings during Specialist Jimenez’ deployment. As you know, on May 16, 2007, Specialist Jimenez was reported missing,

ICE intends to request that the immigration judge terminate the removal proceedings, and this afternoon, Ms. Hiraldo’s attorney informed ICE counsel that he would not oppose that request. If the immigration judge grants the request, ICE will grant Ms. Hiraldo discretionary parole into the United States and USCIS may then consider and adjudicate her application for permanent residence.

The sacrifices made by our Soldiers and their families deserve our greatest respect, and we will ensure that Ms. Hiraldo’s immigration case is given every possible consideration. If you have any questions regarding this important matter, please contact my Office of Legislative Affairs .

Sincerely,

Michael Chertoff

4 Responses to “Chertoff Agrees to Kerry’s Request to Protect Wife of MIA Soldier”

  1. I haven’t read all that letter. Just looked like a lot of CYA so I skipped those parts. At least he did the right thing and wrote back.

  2. Hmmm … why doesn’t he just grant her permanent residence?

    ICE intends to request that the immigration judge terminate the removal proceedings, and this afternoon, Ms. Hiraldo’s attorney informed ICE counsel that he would not oppose that request. If the immigration judge grants the request, ICE will grant Ms. Hiraldo discretionary parole into the United States and USCIS may then consider and adjudicate her application for permanent residence.

    MAY consider permanent residence? Is that just a technicality or are they leaving wiggle room to NOT grant her permanent residence?

  3. Thank you so much Senator Kerry! I hope they do the right thing and not try to leave a loophole.

  4. The least we could do for this man’s wife. Thank God someone was looking out for her. It goes to show that as in the past, immigrants continue to make an incredible contribution to our way of life. They continue to believe in many things for which the average citizen has become jaded – the American dream.