February 22, 2010

Mother of Fallen Soldier now Faces Deportation

Sgt. Bueno-Galdos was working to help his mother obtain permanent residency status in the United States. But when he was killed in Baghdad in May of 2009, his mother's path to citizenship was put in jeopardy.

NEWARK, NJ - When Sgt. Christian Bueno-Galdos joined the military, he hoped that his enlistment would help protect those closest to him. Now, after paying the ultimate sacrifice, the country he left to defend is on the verge of tearing his family apart.

Sgt. Bueno-Galdos was working to help his mother obtain permanent residency status in the United States. But when he was killed in Baghdad in May of 2009, his mother's path to citizenship was put in jeopardy.

Now, still mourning the death of her son, Eugenia Galdos is facing deportation by American Immigration Services.

"I don’t want to go because I have my son buried here,” Galdos said. “My son gave his life for this country.

Needing assistance, the Paterson woman reached out to the G.I. Go Fund, a veterans’ organization based in Newark's City Hall. The organization, eager to help Galdos with her situation, organized a meeting with her in Senator Bob Menendez's office.

"What is happening to this woman is a tragedy," said G.I. Go Executive Director Jack Fanous. "Her son went overseas to defend our country, lost his life, and our response is to deport his mother. This is completely unacceptable on all levels."

The G.I. Go Fund felt that Menendez, who recently co-sponsored legislation that seeks to automatically grant permanent residency for parents and spouses of family members who die in war, would take particular interest in this case.

"[Senator Menendez] has been a key proponent of many issues regarding veterans in the past," said Fanous. "He recognized that this was a problem long before Ms. Galdos was put in this situation. It is crucial to ensure not only that Ms. Galdos is taken care of properly, but also that something like this never happens again."

Menendez's office was able to offer words of encouragement to Ms. Galdos regarding her status, but it remains unclear whether her problem will be rectified.

But word [of her situation] is spreading. Numerous media outlets, including local radio stations and several Spanish-speaking news outlets, have picked up the story. Message boards have been flooded with comments, both English and Spanish, expressing outrage about the situation, with people asking how a mother could be deported from the country that her son died to protect.

"This poor woman has suffered enough. Let this woman stay here in America," writes one angry reader. Another writes "She deserves to stay!"

Those on the front lines of the cause feel that this public outcry is good, as it will alert more people to the situation and create pressure on the immigration services to change their stance. "We simply cannot allow something like this to happen," said G.I. Go Deputy Director Alexander Manis. "She is a good woman who is having something terrible happen to her. She doesn't know what else to do, or what is going to end up happening. But people are noticing, and I hope that leads to a proper resolution for her."

Many things remain up in the air regarding Ms. Galdos’ predicament. But one thing is certainly clear: this is not what her son would have wanted.