Senator Helps ASU Grad Become Legal Resident

Sep 13, 2010 11:13am

ABC News on Campus reporter Nathan O’Neal blogs:
When Arizona State University graduate Oscar Vazquez (at left), 24, made the tough decision to self-deport back to Mexico, this crossing was much different from what he had experienced when he crossed the border illegally with his mother 12 years ago. He was doing what he said was the “right thing” – leaving the country to come back as a legal resident.
He left his wife, Karla, and their infant daughter in Phoenix, to return to a Mexico that he did not know.
“It was a gamble we had to take because that was the only choice that we thought was reasonable for us to be able to have a better future here in this country,” said Vazquez, who is now back at his Phoenix home.
Vazquez was honored at the ASU graduation commencement in front of President Barack Obama in 2009 for being a top-performing student. He also attracted attention when his underdog high school robotics team won a national collegiate competition, beating a team from MIT.
Knowing that it would be impossible for him to apply his engineering degree in the workplace because of his legal status, he decided to admit his illegal presence and apply for a waiver to the 10-year bar on entrance to the United States.
Vazquez spent just under one year in Magdalena de Kino in Sonora, Mexico, looking forward to visits from his wife and daughter, both U.S.-born citizens, every couple of weeks.
His personal story about his legal status has also previously been featured in articles in The Arizona Republic, CNN and ABC News on Campus.
That media coverage, Vazquez said, helped get the attention of Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois). “Sen. Durbin called the Homeland Security … and I think that’s what made everything change, what sped up the process,” he said.
On July 14th, Oscar’s wife Karla received a letter notifying them that his waiver had been approved. “I was so happy, I just kind of wanted to take off and take him the letter as soon as I could,” Karla said.
She wanted to see his reaction in person, but it wasn’t until she was able to visit Oscar in Mexico that she got the chance to surprise him with the letter. “I just wanted him to see it for himself,” Karla said. “It was just a better reaction … just see him kind of smile.”
By August 30th, Oscar was back in Phoenix – a wait of just 361 days and a far cry from the 10-year wait originally expected.
He hopes that his story is something that will help balance the “anti-immigration sentiment in Arizona.”
“It’s nice sometimes to show that there are students like me – and there’s a lot of us – are here to do the right things,” Vazquez said. “We had no choice on whether to come here or not, we were brought here as kids and we still pursued our schooling … we try to do the best we can.”
Oscar hopes to put his engineering degree to practice in a job or possibly join the military – but now he has something he didn’t have a year ago: options.

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