Costa Rican college student Marie Nazareth González has experienced an immigration nightmare in the United States – but as she told members of the U.S. House of Representatives last week, she’s still hoping Congress will turn her ordeal into a dream.
González, 21, whose parents were deported from the United States in 2005 but who was granted permission to continue her studies at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, appeared May 18 before the U.S. Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law to speak on behalf of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, also known as the Dream Act. The bill would allow undocumented students to apply for and obtain legal residency if they attend university or are recruited by the U.S. Armed Forces.
The Political Science and International Business major told representatives her story and that of her parents,Marvin and Marina González – who, along with their daughter, moved from Costa Rica to the United States in 1991. The family entered the country on a tourist visa and settled in Missouri based on erroneous advice from lawyers who told them they’d be able to apply for legal residency status after 10 years.
“When (my parents) came to the United States they had no intention of breaking the law, or of making an exception for themselves,” reads González’s written testimony as posted on the congressional Web site.
“Throughout all our years in the United States we worked very hard for what we had, thinking that one day soon we would be citizens.”
When an anonymous caller asked the Missouri Governor’s Office, where Marie’s father was working as a courier, to investigate the family’s immigration status in 2002, a year after their tourist visa expired, people in their hometown of Jefferson City and throughout the country, including Missouri’s congressional representatives, campaigned in the family’s favor, winning a series of deferments that allowed González to remain and attend college. However, her parents were deported just three days after González received her deferral.
“I can personally attest to how life in limbo is no way to live,” González said of the uncertainty she continues to face.