'Please Let Me Stay'

On this weekend when many immigrants will be sworn in as new citizens, one Missouri family may be spending their last Fourth of July in the United States.

Marvin and Marina Gonzalez moved to Missouri from Costa Rica 16 years ago, raised their daughter Marie there, and became pillars of the community. But, explains co-anchor Hannah Storm on The Early Show, they have no legal right to be in the U.S.

When they moved to Missouri from Costa Rica with six-month visas in 1991, they'd heard that, if they were model citizens, they'd become real citizens in seven years. So they built their own American dream.

"Every member of this family," Bishop John Gaydos said at a recent hearing, "has contributed significantly in our community. Marvin risked his own life opening Gov. Holden's mail during the anthrax scare. Marina has volunteered so generously at Immaculate Conception School, helping kids learn Spanish. Marie graduated from our own high school here, with honors."

But it hardly mattered: When it was discovered that the family was living here illegally, the deportation process began.

"We have to ask ourselves," Gaydos added at that hearing, "what's wrong with our nation's immigration laws that it would take from us a family like this?"

As things stand, they'll be sent back to Costa Rica on Tuesday.

Marie, now 19, who grew up in Missouri, would be a stranger in her own homeland.
  • Brian Dakss

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