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Immigration Battles: One Family's Story

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Paula Guzman's eyes fill with tears when she thinks about it. "I can't wait for that day, it's been so long."
 
A Reno native, Paula has been waiting two years and seven months to be reunited with Ramiro, her husband and father to their two children. 
 
"I'm so amazed that my husband - that our marriage is still there," says Guzman. That marriage started in the 90's and the two lived for years in Oregon with their two daughters. 

Their legal battle began more than ten years ago when Ramiro, a Mexican national, was caught working in the U.S. after his Tourist Visa expired. He was told to leave the country, which he did, but then he returned, again illegally. The government doesn't like that says Paula.

"We have these very harsh penalties - the most common one being ten years - of essentially, exile," says Kyle Edgerton. He should know, he handles immigration cases like these on a regular basis for Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada. 
 
So, the punishment imposed on Ramiro Guzman for breaking the law twice was a ten year bar from applying for residency. 

Edgerton helped Paula with her case and says families like the Guzman's have two choices: "if we want to get our legal situation right, we either have to move our family for the next decade to some other country or we have to endure a ten year separation."
 
Paula and Ramiro opted to keep the family together and move to Mexico. And for almost ten years, living south of the border was pretty nice, then "we moved back because of the drug dealers, they were kidnapping people and killing them," says Paula.
 
So she moved herself and her daughters to Reno. Once here, Paula continued the process of trying to get her husband legal residency in the U.S.
 
"And through that ten year bar - he was now eligible to come back to the U.S.," says
Arturo Garzon, Regional Representative for Congressman Mark Amodei. He also helped Paula with her case. 

After piles of paperwork and years of frustration, it was a letter from the Representative that helped move things along. Finally Ramiro was granted the right to live in the United States legally.
  "He will have his green card for permanent residency," says Paula, her voice strained with emotion.
 
If all goes as planned the whole family will be back together again this Friday when Ramiro flies in to Reno - a reunion they can hardly wait for.

Written by Andi Guevara

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