His wife died in combat. His daughter is American. And yet Ice targeted him

Gonzalez Carranza was once permitted to live and work in the US but his future is uncertain as Trump pushes to deport non-criminal immigrants like him

On a warm April morning in the Arizona desert, Jose Gonzalez Carranza, a thickset man with a slight lisp, a crooked smile and an intricate tattoo of a hundred-dollar bill creeping across his left hand, sits at his kitchen table trying to unpack whats happened to him.

Gonzalez Carranza, 30, the Gold Star immigrant dad who made national news when he was briefly and mistakenly deported to Mexico in early April, has seen his life spiral out of control.

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Once permitted to live and work in the United States because the mother of his child died in active duty in Afghanistan, his future in the United States is now uncertain as Donald Trump pressures immigration authorities to deport non-criminal immigrants like him. Overburdened immigration courts and overworked immigration agents may have led to his deportation even though he had a legal stay from removal.

Now hes dealing with the fallout and hes gone from a man who was just getting his footing in life to a man who has no footing at all.

Photo
Photo of Barbara Vieyra and daughter Evelyn. Photograph: Jose Gonzalez Carranza

On 7 April, Gonzalez Carranza had a good job, a house with a red tiled roof in a cookie-cutter housing development, a red pickup truck with flames painted on the side, bills to pay, and a complicated relationship with his natural daughter. Four days later, he was sitting on a bench in Nogales, in the Mexican state of Sonora. Last week, he was back in his house near Phoenix with a slew of new legal problems, no job, a months worth of savings, outraged in-laws and an uncertain future.

I cant process it, he says as he sits in his kitchen ignoring reporters calling on his buzzing iPhone. A sign on the wall behind him says Home Sweet Home.

He considers himself more American than Mexican, because he hiked across the Arizona desert at 14 to enter the United States illegally in 2004. He remembers the five-day journey the backpack filled with canned tuna fish, apples, electrolytes and a two-gallon jug of water. Hed never seen anything as vast as the lonely desert, and wondered what would happen if he lost sight of his group of 12 people and the guide. But he made it to Phoenix, and after his uncle paid the guide $1,200 he was safe.

Back home in Orizaba, Veracruz, Mexico, hed never known his father. His mother, who sold toys at the local swap meet, was too poor to take care of him full time. He grew up with uncles and aunts watching out for him.

In Phoenix, he chose not to go to school, a mistake he now regrets since he never attended high school. He got a job instead as a carpet installers assistant. After a few years he went solo, installing carpets on his own for big American companies. The American companies paid a broker, who contacted installers like him. He earned $400 on a good week, and often less.

He met Barbara Vieyra at a teenage nightclub. They were both 17. He asked her to dance and bought her a soda pop. A few months later, they moved in to an apartment together, he says. We just wanted to be together, in our own world.

Soon, Barbara was pregnant.

Jose
Jose Gonzalez Carranza and Barbara Vieyra hold daughter Evelyn Bibi during a baptism celebration in Arizona when Vieyra was in the army. Photograph: Jose Gonzalez Carranza

Her mother was furious, as he tells it, and she never forgave him. That was the beginning, he contends, of an acrimonious relationship that endures to this day.

After they turned 18, they married in a 2007 civil ceremony. They were kids trying to build a marriage. It didnt always go well. Once, he illegally bought a six-pack of Bud Light beer at a liquor store and sat in the car drinking. That led to a DUI arrest and a jail stay, which didnt endear him to his in-laws. He dreaded visiting his wifes family on obligatory holidays. But the visits grew more frequent after their daughter, Evelyn, whom he calls Bibi, was born 12 years ago.

Barbara joined the army the year after they were married so she could fund a nursing education once her tour of duty was over. She hadnt trusted him to watch their toddler daughter, so shed asked her mother to care for Bibi while she was gone.

He was still an unauthorized immigrant carpet installer when his young wife was killed by an explosive device in Afghanistan on his 22nd birthday. It was 2010.

He didnt process that, either. He talked to a chaplain only once, and never took advantage of the counseling the army offered. And he was overwhelmed with guilt for supporting his wifes decision to enlist in the army. If she hadnt, he thought, shed still be alive.

And now he cant forget the last time he saw his wife, in full military uniform in the casket.

I was a young man who made mistakes, he says. I wish I could have changed a lot of things I wish Id been a better husband.

Jose
Jose Gonzalez: I was a young man who made mistakes. Photograph: Joshua Taff

After Barbara died, her parents sued Gonzalez Carranza in Maricopa county superior court to gain full custody of Evelyn. They brought up the DUI. They said he wasnt around his daughter very much. The ugly court dispute lasted years. He fought back. He took parenting classes. He hired a lawyer. A court-appointed adviser recommended he get custody. But the judge gave his in-laws full custody.

Now, the Arizona Republic reports that he owes about $23,000 in unpaid child support and accrued interest. A columnist for the newspaper wrote Gonzalez Carranza snookered the media with his tale of woe.

He says he was too poor to pay child support when he installed carpets, and the sum built up, and claims he now pays $500 a month in child support. After Barbara died, he began getting monthly spousal benefits from the army. He still gets them today, and says theyre over $1,000 but wont say how much.

I reached out to Guadalupe Vieyra, Barbaras sister and the family spokesman, for comment. She didnt return my call, but she said in a statement Gonzalez Carranza shouldnt use her dead sister and niece to solve his immigration problems in the media. She said his presence in her life has always been, to this day, extremely minimal.

The court allows him to see his daughter every other weekend, but he says sometimes she doesnt want to come with him. Hes got a girlfriend and two stepkids at his house. His daughter has her own life at her grandparents.

But they do spend time together. Theyll buy hot Cheetos at the Circle K, or pizza at Little Caesars, watch Netflix, go swimming.

Now he wonders if hell ever see her again if he gets deported. In 2015, an immigration judge gave Gonzalez Carranza a special parole from deportation because he is the surviving spouse of Barbara and Bibis dad. The parole meant that he could get a work permit, hire on as a welder, leave carpet installation behind, make more money.

He says he didnt know that Ice initiated deportation proceedings against him in 2018, or that a judge ordered him deported and closed his case after he didnt show up in court.

Gonzalez Carranza says he never got the notice to appear in court in the first place.

On 8 April, he was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents as he was driving to his welding job. For three days, he was shuttled between detention centers and offices awaiting processing.

Ezequiel Hernandez, Gonzalez Carranzas attorney, had filed court papers to reopen the deportation case. Such a filing sets off an automatic temporary stay from deportation. Nevertheless, Ice mistakenly deported Gonzalez Carranza to Nogales, Mexico on 11 April.

He slept in a migrant shelter in Nogales, and shared free meals of eggs and tortillas with Central Americans denied entry into the United States. Four days after he was deported to Mexico, Ice agents returned him to Phoenix awaiting the outcome of his effort to reopen the deportation case.

Hes hanging his hopes on it. But he knows if the case isnt reopened, he could be deported again, this time legally. He fears he wont see his daughter again.

And if that happens, he says, Everything ends.

Original Article : HERE ; The Ultimate Survival Food: The Lost Ways

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