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June 30, 2015

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Las Vegas couple join call for immigration reform in D.C.

As the country waits for senators drafting immigration legislation to unveil a compromise bill, Las Vegas couple James and Sharon Courtney joined hundreds of immigration activists in the Capitol Wednesday to call for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

“I may be undocumented, but I am an American military wife,” said Sharon, an undocumented Mexican immigrant who has been married to James, a three-time Iraq war veteran, since 2000. “And I have come to realize: I am a warrior just like my husband.”

James Courtney, who joined the Army in 1997, met Sharon, who came to the U.S. at age 15, in a Texas bar. He couldn’t speak Spanish. She couldn’t speak English. But they started a relationship — and a year later they were married.

Thirteen years later, Sharon is fluent in English and she and James are parents to three American boys: Ricardo, 16; James, 11; and Darren, 8. Sharon is also chief caretaker to her husband James, who after a 15-year military career, received a medical discharge last year due to post-traumatic stress disorder, a brain injury that affects his speech, and other injuries.

“The doctor said that his body is now like an 85-year-old man’s,” Sharon said.

Because she is undocumented, she explained, Sharon can’t easily work. She can’t earn more money to put into their home, and worries about taking care of her family. And because she is 35, she is too old to consider going back to school and become eligible for a work permit and a stay of deportation under the deferred action program instituted last year for undocumented immigrants brought to the country as minors.

For the Courtneys to keep their family together, it’s comprehensive immigration reform, or nothing.

“I did what my country asked me to do,” James Courtney said to the room of about 200 immigrants and their supporters gathered in a room of the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Tuesday afternoon. “Now I’m asking my country to keep us together for the sake of humanity and freedom.”

James and Sharon were featured speakers at the invitation of Nevada Rep. Steven Horsford, who said the Courtneys’ story presented a compelling case for immigration reform.

“It’s clear that it is not acceptable to treat families or veterans of our country this way,” Horsford said. “The broken system is tearing our families apart.”

The Courtneys were the only family featured in which one spouse was a veteran.

“This man went over seven IEDs. Seven explosions, and was able to be alive,” Sharon said of her husband. “He feels that he has a purpose, and ever since we started coming out about it, it’s making him feel that he actually has that purpose.”

James, recalling how on Iraq deployments he would worry more about protecting his family from deportation orders than his own fate in a war zone, said that honoring his family was the best way to honor his service.

“We do not have family ties to Mexico, and me and my boys, we don’t speak Spanish,” he said. “They’re not anchor babies: They’re sons of a father who fought and a mother who sacrificed during that time … Please do not crush their dreams.”

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  1. I am in favor of citizenship for those who serve our country, i.e. in the military or peace corps. Anyone else, no.




    While every petition, fax, email and phone call against the amnesty is important, signing this petition is by far the most important single thing one of your friends or relatives can do.

    The reason is that signing this petition puts a person into an email system at NumbersUSA that will alert them every time one of their elected officials needs to hear something specific about immigration. Nobody else but NumbersUSA runs a customized grassroots mobilization system like this that constantly gathers information on Capitol Hill about your Members of Congress and then lets you know what they are doing, saying and thinking about immigration policy.

    The New York Times and other mass media have repeatedly stated that NumbersUSA's mobilization network led the efforts that defeated the close-call amnesty efforts of 2007 and 2010. But the forces for open borders are far more powerful today. Please help by passing along this Petition to everybody you know.

  3. Let's reform immigration: ENFORCE OUR LAWS. Expel and deport the 15-20 million illegals. Let them self deport by ending free food, housing, health care, child care, utilities.

  4. "I did what my country asked me to do," James Courtney said....."Now I'm asking my country to keep us together for the sake of humanity and freedom."

    What you DID James, was marry a criminal...knowing at the time that she was a criminal....and now you want her to be exempt from the consequences of her crime because it benefits you directly.

    When you married her both of you knew she could be deported at any time. When you decided to have children with her both of you knew she could be deported at any time. You both decided to ignore the risks...and now you don't want to deal with the consequences.

    Tell me, how is this any different then if you met a woman who was on the run for bank robbery or murder and then complain how it disrupts your family when she's finally caught and sent to prison?

  5. Charles Gladu - I know you are a Romney supporter. Your words today couldn't convince me more.