"This is the time for my father to show us that he really does love and care about us," Gia Giudice said on Wednesday's Real Housewives of New Jersey premiere
During Wednesday’s episode, Joe’s wife Teresa Giudice spoke to daughters Gia, 18, Gabriella, 15, Milania, 13, and Audriana, 10, about the appeal process.
Turns out, it was Gia who urged her dad to fight his deportation no matter what. She said he was reluctant at the idea of multiple appeals, but she insisted — and even threatened to end their relationship if he didn’t listen.
“I already told him, say you lose this appeal, you better fight it until the Supreme Court,” Gia recalled. “And at first, he didn’t want to be in ICE, he was like, ‘I’m done with this s—.’ And I said, ‘If you do that, you will not have a relationship with me.’ “
“If I were my father, I would have the urge sometimes too to sign the papers and go straight to Italy. But his deportation should not be happening,” Gia told the camera during a confessional. “He should have made himself a citizen a long time ago. It just shouldn’t have been done, and now this is the time for my father to show us that he really does love and care about us.”
Gia’s comments in the RHONJ premiere were filmed a week before Joe’s release from prison and into Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody, and the cameras captioned the family’s uncertainty about his fate.
Joe began a 41-month prison sentence for mail, wire and bankruptcy fraud in March 2016. Last March, he was released and transferred to the custody of ICE at the Clinton County Correctional Center in Pennsylvania, where he remained until last month, when he moved to Italy to await the final ruling in his deportation appeal.
As Teresa explained on Wednesday’s episode, Joe was born in Italy and lived there for a year before his parents relocated to America. He never obtained American citizenship. Per U.S. law, immigrants can be deported if they are convicted of “a crime of moral turpitude” or an “aggravated felony.”
That ruling was made last October. Joe’s appealed twice so far, and has been denied both times. A final ruling is expected this month.
For Gia, seeing her dad go through this — and her mom, who served a little over 11 months in prison for the same crimes — has inspired her to consider becoming a lawyer herself.
She told her sisters on RHONJ that she choose to go to Rutgers University because it has a good law program. She also liked that it was close to home. “I’m literally 45 minutes away,” Gia said. “I stayed close because if my dad comes home, I’ll want to make up for lost time.”
Still, going to college was bittersweet for Gia.
“I am going to prom, I am going to graduation, I am going to college. Those are three big things I want my father here for,” she told her mother and sisters. “I understand we’re all hurting, but I’m saying it’s a big year for me and I would want my father here.”
“You’re going to have dad here and you should be really grateful for that,” she told Gabriella. “At least he won’t be locked up anymore. You’re lucky.”
Gia started at Rutgers in the fall.
Back in September, a source close to the Giudice family told PEOPLE that while Joe’s case has been hard on his family, Gia has helped keep everyone together.
“Gia has been a rock for her family during these tough times,” the insider said. “She’s very mature for her age and her sisters really look up to her.”
“With the whole Joe situation, she stays strong for them, while still fighting for her dad,” the source added. “Even now that she’s away for college, the girls are all still very close. She’s set a great example for them. She’s the real star.”
Currently, Gia, her sisters, and her mom Teresa are en route to Italy, visiting Joe for the first time since his release. Bravo cameras are filming the trip for an upcoming special.
The Real Housewives of New Jersey airs Wednesdays (8 p.m. ET) on Bravo.