BOSTON – The wife of a soldier missing in Iraq no longer faces deportation, a U.S. Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman said Wednesday.
Army Spec. Alex Jimenez, who has been missing since his unit was attacked by insurgents in Iraq on May 12, had petitioned for a green card for his wife, Yaderlin, whom he married in 2004, Boston's WBZ-TV reported.
Their attorney, Matthew Kolken, said Yaderlin illegally entered the United States from the Dominican Republic in 2001. Her husband's request for a green card and legal residence status for her alerted authorities to her situation, Kolken said.
The attorney said his client would not be eligible for a green card under normal circumstances, but he is seeking a hardship waiver for her. If she were to have to leave the U.S., she would have to wait 10 years before reapplying.
"I can't imagine a bigger injustice than that, to be deporting someone's wife who is fighting and possibly dying for our country," Kolken told the station.
An immigration judge put a temporary stop to the proceedings since Alex Jimenez was reported missing. The soldier's wife is living with family members in Pennsylvania, the station reported.
On Wednesday, U.S. Sens. Edward Kennedy and John Kerry urged officials not to deport the soldier's wife.
The deportation case was closed in May 2006, and there are no plans to reopen it, said Jamie Zuieback, a DHS spokeswoman.
"There is no move to deport her," Zuieback said. "We, like all Americans, hope for Specialist Jimenez's safe return."
U.S. forces continue to search for Jimenez, 25, and a comrade, Pvt. Brian Fouty, 19, of Waterford, Mich.
The soldiers' identification cards were found in an Al Qaeda safe house north of Baghdad, along with video production equipment, computers and weapons, the U.S. military said Saturday. An Al Qaeda front group claimed in a video posted on the Internet earlier this month that the soldiers were killed and buried, and showed images of the ID's. The video offered no proof of their fates.
The body of a third soldier taken in the attack on their 10th Mountain Division unit was found floating in the Euphrates River. Four other U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi translator were killed in the ambush.