“We’re both pretty strong, and we’re both there for each other,” Teresa, 46, tells PEOPLE about Joe, who is currently serving out a 41-month prison sentence for mail, wire and bankruptcy fraud that began in March 2016.
“My four daughters, they’re my main priority. So if I crumble up, it’s not going to be good for them, you know? I have … to keep everything going as normal as possible for my four daughters,” says Teresa, who shares Gia, 17, Gabriella, 14, Milania, 12, and Audriana, 9, with Joe. “They have school, they have their activities. Everything is going on, so that’s how I deal with it. I try to keep everything as normal as possible and I’m not going to be in a corner like crying or not attending to my kids. What good would that be for them?”
Earlier this month, the Giudice family’s world was rocked to its core once again.
On Oct. 10, an immigration court ruled that Joe, who emigrated to America as a child but never obtained citizenship, will be deported to his home country of Italy upon his release from prison.
“When I married him, I didn’t know. I remember I tried to make him, I tried to fill out the paperwork,” the Real Housewives of New Jersey star says of Joe not applying for citizenship.
“It was never on my radar. It’s not like I married an immigrant and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I have to make him an American citizen.’ Never thought of that at all,” she adds. “I mean, I guess that that was his parent’s responsibility. I mean they came here when he was a year old. I mean his brother and sister, they were born here. And they’re American.”
RELATED VIDEO: Teresa Giudice: ‘I Never Thought I’d Be a Single Parent’
Since news broke of his court-ordered deportation, the Bravo personality says that she and her four girls have visited Joe in prison.
And like his wife and daughters, Teresa shares that Joe is “very upset” about the possibility that he would be deported to his native Italy, where he has family in Sala Consilina.
“He’s a strong guy and he’s just — again, we’re just doing the best we can,” says Teresa, who adds, “You just gotta just deal with it, you know?”
Although Teresa is remaining optimistic about his release, she’s saddened about the situation as a whole.
Throughout the nearly three years that Joe has been serving his sentence, he’s missed out on precious moments of making memories at home with their children.
“Of course I’m very angry,” Teresa says of Joe. “I’m just angry like a lot of things. I wish my husband would have crossed every T, dotted every I. There was also another person involved and nothing happened to that person, which is very sad. There’s a lot of scenarios. I lost my mom. I’m angry about that. You know? I lost time with my mom, because I was away. There’s a lot. I lost time with my daughters while I was away. Children need their mom.”
“He left when Adriana was 6. She’s 9 now. Yeah. It’s two and a half years. I mean it’s going to be three years,” she shares. “He’s lost three years with his children.”
Following Teresa’s prison release on Dec. 23, 2015 — she served a little over 11 months in prison for the same crimes as Joe — she has been doing what she can to make up for lost time and has remained focused on raising her four girls, who are also hopeful of his return home.
“The adults can handle anything. Adults can handle it because they’re big. That’s why we’re adults. We can handle it. But who would it affect the most? It’s the children,” Teresa explains. “And that’s what’s sad about it, because the children are affected by it. It’s very sad, because they’re going through all this heartache, meanwhile it’s not even their fault. You know? They’re the ones that hurt the most.”
Although Joe’s future after his spring release is unknown, the family is doing everything in their power to make sure that Joe returns home to New Jersey.
Since the judge’s ruling — “They did make an example out of us,” Teresa says — Joe has 30 days to appeal the decision.
“They know we’re gonna fight it. They know mommy is doing everything she can,” Teresa says of her daughters. “They know I’m doing everything I can. So that’s it. That’s all I can do.”
For the time being, Teresa says she’s “taking it day by day” and doing “whatever we have to do.”
“Whatever the attorneys tell me. Whatever they tell me, that’s what I do,” says Teresa. “You know, we’re going to fight this.”
Says Teresa, “I have my four daughters, I have my dad who lives with me. I gotta keep it together.”