An undocumented man whose wife was killed while serving in the U.S. Army was deported to Mexico before immigration officials temporarily reversed their decision, according to the man and his lawyer.
The man, Jose Arturo Gonzalez Carranza, was deported last Wednesday after having been arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, in Arizona last week, NBC affiliate KPNX of Phoenix reported.
"Thursday morning I wake up in Mexico," Gonzalez told KPNX. "What's going on? What am I doing here? Why am I here? I can't explain what my feelings were when I crossed the border."
On Monday, immigration officials reversed course, allowing him to return to the United States while a decision is made on whether to reopen his case.
"It's like your wife died and then you're almost out for no reason," Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez, who is originally from Mexico, had been granted "parole in place," which allowed him to remain in the United States without the threat of deportation following the death of his wife, Gonzalez's attorney, Ezequiel Hernandez, told the station.
Pfc. Barbara Vieyra, 22, was killed in September 2010 while serving in Afghanistan after insurgents attacked her unit using an improvised explosive device and rocket-propelled grenades, the Defense Department said at the time. Their daughter, who is a U.S. citizen, is now 12 years old.
Despite his parole-in-place status, ICE chose to refile a deportation case against Gonzalez last year, Hernandez said. He had been ordered deported by a judge after missing a hearing in his immigration proceedings in December, but he was not properly notified, his lawyer said.
"I never received any kind of paper," Gonzalez told KPNX. "The first time this happened, the judge gave me an opportunity to be a United States legal, and I do my best. I never missed anything, any kind of information, any kind of paper. Any time I needed to be in front of an immigration judge, I was always there."
ICE agents arrested him Monday of last week and deported him Wednesday.
The agency said that the day he was arrested, Gonzalez filed a motion to reopen his case with the Executive Office for Immigration Review.
"On April 15, Gonzalez-Carranza was allowed to re-enter the United States pending adjudication of his immigration proceedings," ICE said in a statement Tuesday. "An immigration judge with EOIR will determine if proceedings should be reopened, and whether Gonzalez-Carranza has legal basis to remain in the United States.”
Hernandez told KPNX that Gonzalez would call him asking him whether he would be able to see his daughter again. Gonzalez shares custody with Vieyra's parents.
Hernandez said that he is looking to reopen the case because of errors made by ICE, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.