National

Jan 28, 2013 6:24 PM

Family divided by immigration reform

A close knit family always worried they could be torn apart. Marcela and her husband are undocumented immigrants. Her baby is a US citizen. Her brother just received temporary legal status. They all want to stay in the US -- the place they call home.

"This is my country. I was teenager when I came here."

When Marcela and her brother, Ricardo Campos, came to the United States from El Salvador she was 16 and he was 12. They went to school here, graduated from high school, but have always lived in the shadows.

Ricardo is a premed student in college. As a teenager he was diagnosed with bone cancer. Several operations later he was cancer free. Now he dreams of one day becoming a doctor.

"Helping people, helping folks is what I always wanted, especially after my cancer. Like I think I owe people, I owe the American people back for giving me my life back."

What stands in his way is his legal status. For now he is free from the threat of deportation under the Obama deferred action program, but he wants to become a citizen. Last June, Ricardo joined several groups lobbying Capitol Hill for action on comprehensive immigration reform, now with talk of a new bipartisan framework, he's optimistic.

"What is necessary is a comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship. I mean, we are pretty much Americans, even though we are undocumented, I call ourselves undocumented Americans."

But there are many in the country who may take issue with that. 43 percent of Americans polled, according to a CNN national exit poll, say the US government should deport illegal immigrants and stop more from coming in.

"Deport all the people who are in this country illegally. What is your response to that?"

"I mean, it's clear that even government has stated that's not even an option. These are people who are contributing to our economy. These are people who have lived here like probably for like 10, 15 years I don't know, like these are people who are truly American."

When you look at this family you can see why the immigration is so hard.

"I have a baby and I don't know what happen to me if they deport me to my country."
Marcela lives in fear and an impossible choice if she ever faced deportation: Leave her child here in the United States where he could have a better life or stay with her and have him go to a country that neither of them knows.

A close knit family always worried they could be torn apart. Marcela and her husband are undocumented immigrants. Her baby is a US citizen. Her brother just received temporary legal status. They all want to stay in the US the place they call home.

Under the bipartisan Senate proposal, illegal immigrants without criminal records would need to complete a list of requirements before gaining legal status.

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