Joe Giudice was born Italy and lived there for a year before his parents relocated to the United States
Teresa Giudice made a shocking revelation on Wednesday’s episode of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, when she said that her husband Joe Giudice had blamed her for the fact that he never became an American citizen.
The episode was shot months before news broke that Teresa, 47, and Joe, 49, are separating. They share daughters Gia, 18, Gabriella, 15, Milania, 13, and Audriana, 10.
“He blamed me yesterday,” Teresa said on the episode of Joe, who was born Italy and lived there for a year before his parents relocated to the United States. “He said, ‘Why didn’t you make me an American citizen?’ “
RHONJ cameras then flashed back to a phone conversation Joe had with Teresa days earlier.
“Listen, all you had to do was pick up a phone and call a lawyer,” Joe complained to her.
“Right, so then why didn’t you do it?” Teresa asked. “Why is it on me now?”
Joe was calling Teresa from a high-security correctional center in Pennsylvania, operated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
He had been transferred there in March after completing his 41-month jail sentence for mail, wire, and bankruptcy fraud — a decision he made so that he could fight out the U.S. government’s deportation ruling.
Last October, a ruling was made that Joe would have to leave the country because he never obtained American citizenship.
The conditions at the ICE facility, Joe had said on previously RHONJ, were far worse than those inside the low-security prison in Allenwood, Pennsylvania, where he had spent much of his time behind bars.
All that led Joe to reach his breaking point. “He’s just speaking out of his ass, ma,” Gia told her mother on Wednesday’s episode, of her father’s decision to blame her for his citizen status. “He’s going crazy. That place is a s—hole. My dad is stuck in a two-by-two [cell] with five people. I don’t know what the hell to do.”
“He called me five times right now and every single one of his hopes are getting denied and he can’t live with it,” Gia also said.
Later, when Joe called the family for Easter, he elaborated more on his struggles. “I’m hanging in there,” he said. “You got no choice with this bulls—t. Every once in a while I have a little mental breakdown.”
“I’m doing everything I could, man,” he said. “Enough is enough of this s—, man.”
But the conditions of Joe’s ICE stay — and mainly, the fact that visitors were not allowed physical contact with Joe, meaning that his daughters would all have to talk to their father from behind a panel of glass — also meant Teresa wasn’t interested in taking her youngest daughter, Audriana, to see him.
“She wants to see him, but I don’t want her to see him like that,” Teresa said of Audriana. “She’s too young. Behind the glass? …. I don’t want her to see him that way.”
At the time, Teresa also wasn’t telling Audriana the latest development in his ongoing deportation case: that he had lost his second appeal, and that the odds of him winning his third and final appeal were slim.
Audriana had her suspicions something was up, asking her mother if her father was getting deported and making her promise to relay the information if he has.
“Audriana still doesn’t know that Joe lost his appeal, but she’s a smart little girl,” Teresa told audiences. “As much as I’m trying to hide it from her, she sees, she feels. But she’s still my baby. I’m going to do what I can for her to not feel pain.”
She may have been trying to hide the pain from Audriana, but Teresa admitted that she was struggling with the decision a lot — especially because of the impending holiday.
“I’m just so sad, just thinking about it,” Teresa said. “If we didn’t have this immigration problem, like, Daddy would have been home for this Easter.”
“It’s like, it’s so sad. I’m trying everything,” Teresa said, later admitting, “I’m hanging in there. I cry at night when I’m by myself.”
“What’s so painful of me, the past five years, our family has been ripped apart,” Teresa told viewers. “We haven’t been together on holidays. Joe has missed the girls growing up, and that’s something that we can’t get back.”
Since filming that scene, Joe has been released from that ICE facility and moved to Italy, where he is currently waiting out the final appeal in his deportation order.
On Tuesday, a source close to the Giudices confirmed to PEOPLE that Joe and Teresa had separated, explaining that they “agreed that each had to move on.” (Teresa’s lawyer politely declined to comment.)
“They are doing so amicably and very slowly,” the source said. “Joe has been out on a few dates, Teresa has not. She has been too busy with the girls, with work obligations and taking care of her father. She is happy for Joe. They have been very friendly with one another and are very supportive of each other’s happiness. They still love one another, but as Teresa told Andy Cohen on the WWHL special, they are separated by the Atlantic Ocean. Neither is interested in a long distance relationship.”
Still, the source said there are “no plans for divorce” at this time, adding that “both of them are focused” on their four daughters.
The last time the now-estranged couple were together was in early November, when Teresa took the girls to Italy to visit Joe. Bravo cameras filmed the sweet family reunion for an upcoming special.
“It was really great to reunite with Joe and see how happy the girls were to see their dad,” Teresa told PEOPLE after the trip. “It was all about the girls, and we just had the best time with them.”