Semper Fidelis

Troops Worry Relatives Could Be Deported

Yaderlin Jimenez was an illegal immigrant facing deportation. Her husband, a U.S. citizen and soldier, couldn't help her because he was missing after an insurgent attack in Iraq. The military has not been able to find Army Spc. Alex Jimenez, of Lawrence, Mass., after he was apparently snatched in May during a raid on his unit south of Baghdad. His capture drew national attention to his wife's deportation case, prompting Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to ask immigration officials to halt the proceedings. Jimenez's wife then became a legal resident, but the couple's plight put a public face on the private anguish of a growing number of military families in similar straits.

About 35,000 legal immigrants without citizenship are now serving in the military, and nearly 34,000 other service members have taken the citizenship oath since 2001. That means when immigrant soldiers ship off to Iraq, they may carry with them a worry their American-born counterparts are less likely to share: that their family members might be deported while they are away.