Spouse of U.S. soldier killed in Afghanistan deported, 12-year-old daughter left without parents

Barbara Vieyra, 22, of Mesa, died of injuries suffered when her Army military police unit was attacked with an improvised explosive device and rocket-propelled grenade fire in the Kunar province of Afghanistan on Sept. 18, 2010. She was assigned to the 64th Military Police Company, 720th MP Battalion, 89th MP Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas. (Photo: Family photo)

PHOENIX – Immigration officials have deported the spouse of a U.S. soldier killed in Afghanistan, leaving the couple’s 12-year-old daughter, Evelyn Gonzalez Vieyra a U.S. citizen, in Phoenix without parents, according to the deported man’s lawyer.

Jose Gonzalez Carranza, 30, was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers last Monday on his way to his welding job and then deported to Nogales, Mexico, on Wednesday, said Ezequiel Hernandez, a Phoenix attorney.

Reached by phone, Gonzalez said he has been living in a shelter for deported migrants in Nogales, Mexico, a city he doesn’t know, and is worried about his daughter.

“I feel so bad,” Gonzalez said. “I’m thinking about, I might never see her again.” 

Gonzalez was married to Army Pfc. Barbara Vieyra, who was killed on Sept. 18, 2010, while serving in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. She was 22.

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Jose Gonzalez Carranza is shown with daughter Evelyn Gonzalez Vieyra (Photo: Courtesy of Gonzalez family)

Vieyra was mortally wounded when insurgents attacked her unit using an improvised explosive device and rocket propelled grenade fire in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, the Pentagon said at the time. Her unit had been sent to Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. 

“She sacrificed her life for this country” and now her daughter does not have a parent to raise her in the United States, Gonzalez said.

The daughter is living with her grandparents in Mesa, he said. 

Gonzalez said he came to the U.S. illegally from Veracruz, Mexico, in 2004, when he was a teenager. He said he and Vieyra married in 2007. 

After his wife was killed in Afghanistan, Gonzalez was granted what is known as parole in place, which allows immigrants in the country illegally to remain in the U.S. without the threat of deportation, Hernandez said.

An immigration judge then terminated deportation proceedings against Gonzalez based on the parole in place, Hernandez said.

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However, ICE refiled the case in 2018, Hernandez said.

A judge ordered Gonzalez deported in December 2018 after Hernandez didn’t show up for his court hearing, Hernandez said.

But the reason Gonzalez didn’t show up is because he never received the notice, Hernandez said. He said ICE sent it to the wrong address.

Gonzalez didn’t find out a judge had ordered him deported until ICE officers came to his house last Monday and took him into custody, Hernandez said.

Hernandez said he filed a motion to reopen Gonzalez’s deportation case. The motion triggered an automatic stay of removal, but ICE deported him anyway, Hernandez said.

On Monday, Hernandez sent out a news release to draw attention to Gonzalez’s case.

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Hernandez said he can’t understand why ICE deported him. Gonzalez has no criminal record, he said.

“This guy’s wife died in action in Afghanistan,” he said. 

He said it seemed cruel for ICE to inflict additional pain on Herndandez and his daughter, noting the trauma they experienced after Viewith a man whose wife was killed and a daughter whose mother  

After speaking to The Arizona Republic, Hernandez said he received a call from an ICE officer who told him the agency was making arrangements to allow Gonzalez back into the U.S.

Shortly after, Gonzalez was handcuffed at the border crossing in Nogales by Customs and Border Protection officers and allowed into the U.S., Hernandez said. He was then transported to CBP offices in Tucson, he said.

ICE officials then told Hernandez that Gonzalez would be transported back to Phoenix later tonight and then released on his own recognizance, Hernandez said. 

ICE officials did not immediately provide information on the case.

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Follow Daniel Gonzalez on Twitter @azdangonzalez. 

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