PHOENIX – U.S. immigration officials on Tuesday acknowledged that the spouse of a soldier killed in Afghanistan was deported while a hold on his removal from the U.S. was in place.
Jose Arturo Gonzalez Carranza, a citizen of Mexico, was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers on April 8 with a final order of removal, ICE officials said in a statement.
That same day, Gonzalez Carranza filed a motion to reopen his case with the Executive Office for Immigration Review.
Nevertheless, “ICE removed Gonzalez Carranza from the U.S. pending the motion to reopen while a stay was in place,” the statement said.
The statement – ICE’s first public comment on the case – offered no explanation why ICE removed Gonzalez Carranza from the U.S. while the stay was in place.
On Monday, four days after Gonzalez Carranza was deported to Mexico, he was allowed to re-enter the U.S. pending the outcome of his immigration case, the statement said.
“It doesn’t say anything,” said Ezequiel Hernandez, Gonzalez Carranza’s attorney. “We still don’t have an answer for why he was removed.”
An immigration judge will determine if the case should be reopened and whether Gonzalez Carranza has legal basis to remain in the United States, the statement said.
Gonzalez Carranza’s deportation, and subsequent return to the U.S., sparked outrage.
Gonzalez Carranza, 30, who has admitted he was in the U.S. illegally, was married to Army Pfc. Barbara Vieyra, who was killed on Sept. 18, 2010, in Afghanistan when her unit was attacked by insurgents using an improvised explosive device and rocket-propelled grenade fire in Kunar Province. She was 22 at the time.
Gonzalez Carranza and Vieyra had a daughter, Eveylyn, who is now 12. The girl lives with her grandparents.
Hernandez said an immigration judge may determine by the end of the week whether to reopen Gonzalez Carranza’s case.
As the spouse of a soldier killed in action, Gonzalez Carranza had received what is known as parole in place, which essentially allowed him to live and work in the U.S. even though he had no legal status, Hernandez said.
He received the parole in place after an immigration judge had terminated his deportation case, Hernandez said.
Jose Arturo Gonzalez Carranza’s deportation was quickly reversed by ICE.
Michael Chow, Arizona Republic
But last year, ICE filed charges to open a new deportation case against Gonzalez Carranza, Hernandez said.
However, ICE sent the notice to the wrong address, Hernandez said. As a result, an immigration judge signed a deportation order after Gonzalez Carranza did not show up for an immigration hearing in December, Hernandez said.
Gonzalez Carranza spent four days in Mexico after ICE deported him through the border crossing in Nogales.
After being allowed to re-enter the U.S. on Thursday, ICE dropped him off at the agency’s headquarters near downtown Monday.
In an interview with The Arizona Republic, Gonzalez Carranza described how ICE officers stopped him on his way to work, and then surrounded his vehicle, with guns drawn, an experience he said that added to the trauma after his wife was killed.
Follow Daniel González on Twitter: @azdangonzalez.
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