ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX35) - The military wife and mother who has been fighting to stay in the United States has lost her battle with immigration. On Friday morning she boarded a plane at the Orlando International Airport to Mexico.
Emotions were high as Alejandra Juarez hugged her two children and husband goodbye. Security escorted her through the airport to be deported back to Mexico after living here illegally for 20 years.
Leaving her Polk County life behind, Juarez rolled her suitcase into the airport with her children in tow. She cried into Congressman Darren Soto's arms with one final plea.
"Please… please… hurry," she said.
As she embraced family and friends, her daughters huddled close.
"My mom is a good person," 16-year-old Pamela Juarez said. "She is not a criminal."
Five years ago when Juarez got a traffic ticket, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement learned about her undocumented status. Since then, ICE has supervised her residency. But the current administration's new zero tolerance policy means her time is up.
"Unless there's a change in policy there's gonna be more sad stories," her attorney Richard Maney said. "I think it's time they review the zero tolerance policy because zero tolerance means that people that deserve consideration won't get it. And that's exactly what happened here."
Maney said Juarez has tried to get legal status for years, but when she first tried to enter the country at 19 years old, she got in trouble for making a false claim to a border patrol agent and signed papers that banned her future rights to citizenship.
Her husband, Temo Juarez, a combat veteran who served in the Marine Corps and voted for Donald Trump, is standing by her side.
"Somehow I'm gonna come through for my daughters," he said. "For them especially it's gonna be more tough than anything."
Their daughters, 16 and nine years old, said they don't know when they will see their mother again.
"I don't know what I'm going to do because my only hope is to come back to this beautiful country," Alejandra Juarez said.
Juarez and her attorney said they will continue to fight for her while she is in Mexico. The plan is to have their younger daughter join her. Her teenage daughter will stay in the U.S. with her husband to finish high school.
"What justice does this serve?" Congressman Soto said.
Soto said he plans to present a private bill to congress that would provide specific relief for Juarez allowing her to remain in this country and apply for citizenship.