By Subha Ravindhran
VAN NUYS, Calif. (KABC) -- Like many other soldiers, a Southland-based Iraq war veteran is fighting post-traumatic stress disorder. But he's also facing a bigger battle trying to keep his young family together, as his wife faces deportation.
Twenty-six-year-old Army Specialist Jack Barrios can barely talk about the time he served in Iraq.
"I'll skip talking about that," he said.
But what he can speak about is the battle his family is going through now.
His wife, 23-year-old Frances, is an undocumented immigrant and faces deportation back to Guatemala. According to the L.A. Times, Frances was brought to the U.S. illegally by her mother when she was 6 years old, but did not learn of her status until she was in high school. She learned last year that removal proceedings have been started.
"I'm pretty sad and angry that we're going to get separated," Jack said.
Not only will 3-year-old Mathew and 1-year-old Allanna be separated from their mother, but Jack will also lose his main caretaker.
Since he returned from Iraq in 2007, he's been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
"He was an outgoing person, and he used to like being outside with his friends and have a good time," Frances said. "When he came back, he shut down. It wasn't him."
The Barrioses' attorney Jessica Dominguez said hundreds of veteran families now find themselves in this predicament, and that the chances of keeping Frances in the U.S. are slim.
"It's just mind-boggling to try to understand that in a situation like this, Mr. Barrios cannot be assured that his family will stay together because immigration laws do not protect the sanctity of his family at this point," Dominguez said.
Jack gets up at 3 a.m. everyday and works two jobs to support his family.
This couple can only hope they'll get to stay together.
"She's my soul mate, and she's a part of me, and we can't function without each other," Jack said.
It will be up to a judge to decide whether Frances will be returned back to Guatemala. The hundreds of veterans facing the same issue hope that the new immigration reform bill to be introduced into Congress next year will help them out.