One Army family shows us that sometimes you don't have to deport everyone

For your consideration on Friday morning, we have a slightly different story involving illegal immigration and deportations. This one comes to us from The Military Times and it involves a woman named Elia Crawford. She’s the wife of retired Army Special Forces Sgt. 1st Class Bob Crawford, a decorated veteran of the Gulf War and special ops deployments combating the drug cartels in Latin America. She is also, unfortunately, an illegal alien who fled Honduras almost twenty years ago, crossing the border into the United States without permission.

Sgt. Crawford and Elia have been married for seventeen years and have two children. And now, following a hearing in Virginia on Monday, she may be deported to Honduras.

A Virginia immigration court on Monday could decide to deport the wife of an Army 7th Special Forces Group veteran, despite provisions in the law that allow her to remain in the United States.

Retired Sgt. 1st Class Bob Crawford, 52, and Elia, 44, married in 2001 when he was still on active duty and deploying regularly with 7th Group to conduct counter-narcotics operations and training missions in Latin America.

Elia illegally crossed into the U.S. in 1999, after she fled the devastation of Hurricane Mitch, which killed 7,000 people in her native Honduras.

Bob Crawford has been attempting to obtain legal status for his wife ever since they were married, using the Parole in Place (PIP) program. This service is available for the spouses, parents and children of military service personnel, allowing them to remain in the United States and apply for a green card. Unfortunately, the applicants need a completely clean record when applying and Elia (who was apparently detected by immigration enforcement officials early on) had an outstanding removal order against her, disqualifying her for the PIP program.

There’s no indication that Elia was ever convicted of anything other than being in the country illegally. I understand that if we’re going to take a hard line on all immigration questions, the deportation order could be supported. After all, she did come into the country as an adult in violation of the law and must be responsible for her own actions. But at the same time, the Crawfords aren’t exactly asking for some sort of special treatment. We do have a program in place which would allow for an exception if the request is granted, but the government would need to vacate the removal order against Elia before they can qualify.

Does it sound like I’m applying a double standard here? Well… I am. If anyone deserves a bit of special treatment it’s the families of those who have put it all on the line for us and served in uniform. And if Elia truly hasn’t gotten into any other trouble, on top of having raised two children for Bob and running their household faithfully while he was deployed overseas, allowing him to keep his family together seems like the least we can do.

Yes, the law is the law. But there’s a standing exception available in this case if one relatively minor order can be changed on Monday. I hope the court see their way clear to do this. We owe Sgt. Crawford a huge debt of gratitude as a nation and allowing him to get a green card for his bride and the mother of his children seems like the least we could do.