Joe Giudice is struggling to come to terms with an immigration court’s ruling on Wednesday to deport him to his native Italy after his prison sentence.
“Joe has changed a lot since he’s been in prison,” a source reveals. “He’s a lot calmer, and I think the experience has really showed him how important his family is. This is breaking his heart.”
Joe is currently serving out a 41-month prison sentence for mail, wire and bankruptcy fraud that began in March 2016. He is set to be released in 2019. His wife Teresa served a little over 11 months in prison herself for the same crimes and was released on December 23, 2015.
The couple share daughters Gia, 17, Gabriella, 14, Milania, 12, and Audriana, 9, and the source says Joe “loves those girls so much.”
“They got especially close when Teresa was away,” the source tells PEOPLE. “He didn’t deserve a punishment like this. He’s been here his entire life! He speaks Italian, slightly, but it’s not like he has a whole circle of people over there that he’s bonded with. How is he going to do it?”
Even though Joe has lived in America since he was a child, he never obtained citizenship, and immigrants can be deported from the United States if they are convicted of “a crime of moral turpitude” or an “aggravated felony,” according to U.S. law.
Joe has 30 days to appeal the court’s decision, though it remains unclear whether he will do so. When reached by PEOPLE, his immigration attorneys did not yet have comment. James J. Leonard Jr., the Giudice family attorney, also declined to comment on Wednesday’s news, as did Bravo.