July 2, 2005

Immigrant teen can stay in US but parents must go

CHICAGO (Reuters) - An immigrant teenager in Missouri willhave a special Fourth of July as she celebrates a last-minutereprieve from being deported but said it will be bittersweetbecause her parents are being forced to leave the UnitedStates.

The one-year reprieve for Marie Gonzalez, 19, of JeffersonCity, Missouri, came after a lengthy fight by family, friendsand lawmakers. The supporters were unable to prevent thedeportation of her parents, who are due to leave for Costa Ricaon Tuesday.

Late on Friday the Department of Homeland Security saidGonzalez can stay a year longer, which will allow her to attendcollege or work.

"The details are very unclear on how it all worked out. I'mvery thankful to be able to stay in this country," Gonzalezsaid in a telephone interview on Saturday. "It is such abittersweet moment. It is a win but it is frustrating becausemy parents are leaving."

Under the terms of her one-year stay, Gonzalez said shecannot visit her parents in Costa Rica. She said it will be 10years before her parents will be allowed to return to theUnited States.

"I don't where I'll be going to be going to school, that'swhy I don't know where I'm going to live," Gonzalez said."There are a lot of things I just don't know right now."

Working on behalf of the Gonzalez family were severalmembers of Congress, including Sen. Dick Durbin, an IllinoisDemocrat who has been pushing for passage of a bill that wouldlet children of immigrants stay in the United States, saidfamily friend Ed Stroesser.

"We are pretty thankful that we got part of the job done,"Stroesser said of the ruling allowing Marie to stay in theUnited States.

The Gonzalez family entered the United States 14 years agoas undocumented immigrants. Deportation proceedings against thefamily began in 2002 when it was learned the father, MarvinGonzalez, was an undocumented immigrant. He was working at thetime as a courier in the Missouri governor's office.