A nice story about an illegal immigrant today.

This afternoon, I talked with Marie Gonzalez. You may remember last year when Marie’s parents (who came to the US in 1991 on a six-month visitor’s visa and never left, getting some bad legal advice about staying and becoming citizens) were deported to Costa Rica. Marie was allowed to stay on a one-year deferment to finish high school and attend Westminster College in Missouri. That deferment deadline would have been June 30th, but this she afternoon called my show to report that the Dept. of Homeland Security had just granted her an extension for another year.

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Unfortunately, at the moment, there is no way for Marie to begin the legal process of staying permanently — until Congress passes the Dream Act, permitting students who have lived in the US five years or more (even if they’re here illegally) to become citizens. In the meantime, Marie won’t see her parents for a decade or so, because they’re barred from re-entering the US, and if she goes to Costa Rica to visit them, she won’t be allowed back in, either.

Most arguments against illegal immigrants quickly boil down to “build a fence and secure the border!” But the truth is that there are tens of thousands of immigrants who don’t come across the US-Mexican border — instead, they come here legally on visas as students, visitors, or workers, and then they don’t leave. In Marie’s case, it’s not fair to hold her responsible for what her parents did when she was only five years old. If the immigration debate could ever turn reasonable — and there’s no chance of that in an election year — then the focus could be on real solutions for real people, rather than political rhetoric.