For as long as the United States of America has been the good old USA, people near and far have dreamt of coming here. As we all know, the American Dream isn't dreamt only by Americans.
Today I met Rosa Zarzo and her daughter Julie (an amazing college student who wants my job – she's studying journalism – but I digress). They were kind enough to invite me into their home and share their story.
Rosa came here almost 25 years ago…illegally. "Yes, I know I broke the law but in Mexico there was no future, no hope", she said in Spanish.
Here she met Moises – yup, he too was here illegally – they married, had kids, bought a house and basically lived the American Dream, albeit in the shadows of illegality.
In 2001, they handed their life savings over to a really nice lady they thought was a lawyer, who said she would make their case for residency. The "lawyer" did file the papers with the then INS, seeking political asylum for the couple. Only problem is, political asylum is rarely if ever granted to people from Mexico. A real lawyer would have known that. A real lawyer, which this woman was not.
All their money gone and their political asylum petition denied, they were promptly put on a deportation list. And deported they were. In late March at 5:30 am, ICE agents knocked their door and basically gave them enough time to say "adios" to their five children, the youngest only two, and just like that they were gone.
"I know I broke the law", says Rosa. "But for 23 years I've worked here and paid taxes, every year since 1989. I'm not here to steal or hurt anyone. This is a marvelous country and I love it like it's mine too."
Thru the help of a real lawyer, Rosa was given a special permit to return and care for her kids, all of which were born here. Her husband probably won't be coming back.
Julie, her daughter, works 35 hours a week and goes to school fulltime too. Another daughter is in college too, studying to be a nurse. They seem like great kids who are trying their best to hold this family together as it falls apart, at least financially with dad gone.
"I know they did something wrong", says Julie. "But please have some sympathy and don't break our family up. It's all we have."