(CNN via WWLP) – Every time Army Veteran Ricardo Pineda walks into a Baltimore immigration office with his wife Veronica, he grapples with a heart-wrenching decision.
Pineda explained, “I have to decide between the welfare of my children and my wife.”
His wife is an undocumented immigrant. If she gets deported, he has to choose between staying in the country he served, where his two disabled sons have a better chance at life or move his family back to Mexico.
The family has lived together in the U.S. since 2001. Ricardo was a green card holder until he joined the Army in 2009 and became a U.S. citizen.
Two years later, he requested citizenship for his wife and two children. He said his wife got detained.
Veronica said she’s been routinely checking in with immigration and customs enforcement, known as ICE, ever since.
Ever since President Trump took office, ICE has been using these “check-ins” to take some undocumented immigrants into custody.
Veronica was nervous for the meeting because the first time she illegally tried to enter the United States in 1998, she got caught.
After she was detained, she vowed to never come back to the United States. She broke that vow in 2001 when doctors in Mexico told her that her son Juan needed open heart surgery and his chances of survival were higher in America.
Veronica walked 19 hours to get to the U.S. border, while her sick son was handed to a human smuggler. The family has been in the U.S. ever since.
Pineda said, “If we choose to stay there, he would be dead by now.”
Their son Juan survived the surgery, but complications left him with brain damage, unable to speak. His brother Kevin has cerebral palsy. Veronica takes care of them, and their father too.
In 2014, Ricardo developed diabetes and was medically discharged after serving nearly 6 years in the U.S. Army. An injury to his hand prevents him from giving himself insulin shots, so he relies on his wife.
Pineda asked, “How am I going to take care of my son? That’s the main problem. How am I going to take care of myself?”
Veronica recently had good news about her meeting with an immigration agent. She can check in again in another year.
It is a crisis averted, at least for now, for this military vet and his family.