Friday, May 19, 2006
For illegal immigrants: Don't ask, don't tell
If you're in this country illegally, and you want to do the right thing by applying for legal status, here's some advice from an immigration lawyer: Don't; don't ask the government for legal status; don't tell them you're here.

That's from Jose Hernandez, an immigration lawyer, who says he often tells illegal immigrants, "There is nothing I can do for you. Do not even look for answers. There's nothing that can be done for you."

The story we've been reporting for "360°" is a sad one. It started 17 years ago, when a 14-year-old Mexican girl named Maria Christina Garcia ran away from home. She tells me she was running from an abusive father.

Garcia crossed the border into California in the back seat of a friend's car at San Ysidro. She found work at a Taco Bell, and later a Target, and then at a large hospital. She gave birth to two sons -- both American citizens, now enrolled in good public schools in Orange County -- and kept a tidy apartment in a nice neighborhood.

But she made one very big mistake: She believed a storefront immigration consultant could help her get legal status. She paid this consultant $8,000.

Prosecutors now say the whole thing was a fraud, a nasty fraud, because in addition to taking her money, the immigration consultants told the U.S. government all about Maria Christina. She's about to be deported. The government told her she has just over a month left in this country.

She was the victim of an immigration fraud scam so common that her current lawyer rolls his eyes when he describes it. "What they tell them is: 'In 90 days, I can get you a work authorization, and within about a year, year-and-a-half, you will be able to get your green card.'"

As Hernandez tells it, the immigration consultant first applies for asylum in Maria's name. That application is quickly denied, because illegal immigrants from Mexico are generally not eligible for asylum.

The case is then turned over to an immigration court, which begins deportation proceedings. Because that sometimes takes a long time, and because the U.S. government believes in due process, an immigrant in deportation proceedings can be eligible for a temporary work permit.

This is what Maria got, and immigrants fight for these permits because they can use them, legally, to get a drivers license and a valid Social Security card.

At that point, says Hernandez, "Most of these immigrants think, 'We're on the right path. We're actually getting what we were promised.' Little do they know that in about a year and a half, they're actually going to be removed."

Maria's time is almost up. She's due to be deported in June, and it is very hard to get the government to change its mind about a deportation.

She's an emotional wreck. She has two American-born sons who are citizens. She is expecting a third child in July. She has health insurance and a doctor in California, and has neither in Mexico, where she will likely give birth.

She's thinking of leaving her children in California - their father lives here. They are well aware of what's going on -- her older son, 11-year-old Ivan, often refuses to go to school. He thinks the police might be coming for his mother, and he wants to be home to protect her.

"It may not be fair, but unfortunately, that's the law," said Jorge Guzman, who fights immigration fraud at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

What happened to the people who allegedly defrauded Maria? Not much. The operators of La Guadalupana Immigration Services in Santa Ana, California, were charged with numerous counts of business fraud in state court in California, but the operators have disappeared. Authorities believe they left the country after ripping off 2,000 or more illegal immigrants.
Posted By Peter Viles, CNN Correspondent: 11:16 AM ET
This story brought tears to my eyes. Our government has some really screwed up rules and a worse bureaucracy. Immigrants, illegal or not, should be judged on a case by case basis. These are human beings.

Yes, we need immigration reform and border security, but the emphasis should be on human rights and not politics. Until the government gets this whole mess cleaned up, people will do desperate things.

If I was in Maria's position, I would hide. Nothing could make me leave my children. She tried to do the right thing. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Posted By Anonymous Paige B., Austin, TX : 11:49 AM ET
The story of Maria Christina Garcia puts a human face on the issue of illegal immigration.

I don't see how anyone could say this woman should be deported. Yes, she broke the law at age 14 to get here but she has gone on to build a good life.

What kind of country are we if we send Maria back to Mexico, separating her from her young children?
Posted By Anonymous Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA : 11:50 AM ET
Hi Peter,
Maybe at the end of the day, we as a nation will realize that it's the PEOPLE who matter most in all the debates..Yes, we need laws and rules to be enforced, but we can't forget it's not them and us but WE..We are in this country together..Human Beings are the only thing that really matters when all is said and done..Take Care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton,Calif. : 11:52 AM ET
ah how ironic....little 14-year-old-con-artist-illegal-Garcia got a dose of her own medicine....Its not a sad story Peter, it is a good, heart-warming story for all Americans. The right thing is being done here, she is going to have to go home.
The only sad part of this story is that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had to waste man power and money helping an illegal instead of deporting her. It amazes me that we would waste time helping someone breaking the law.
Posted By Anonymous Brant, Madison, Wisconsin : 11:53 AM ET
Peter Viles,

Why dont you also do a story about how much money the US loses from illegals sending their money back to Mexico? Why dont you report the cost to the taxpayers for overcrowed schools, the drop out rate of illegals children,the refusal to learn English, the uninsured drivers on the roads with no licenses? Im sorry these things happened to this lady but this story is nothing but sensationalism desinged to try to make people feel guilty. The bottom line is these people are coming here illegally and breaking the laws and you are doing nothing but trying to put some emotional spin on it so the big,bad, mean American tyrants can be shown for what they really are! Why doesnt CNN do so fair reporting and present both sides of this issue?
Posted By Anonymous Lisa Jacksonville FL : 12:06 PM ET
Break the law, go home. She should have to go back to Mexico and get in line with the rest of the people who are trying to get in legally. Yes, it's a tragic event for this person, but if they had done the right thing to begin with, this situation wouldn't be happening to her.
Posted By Anonymous Mike, Meadville PA : 12:14 PM ET
Please do not let it seem like its the Americans versus the illegal immigrants. We're all trying to have a better life. This woman was only 14 when she crossed the border. She's gone on to live a better life for herself and for her 2 children. Let her be.
Posted By Anonymous Kris, Fairfax, VA : 12:19 PM ET
We are not an uncaring people. We expect everyone to follow the laws of the land. We expect our government to make and enforce those laws. This issue is not black and white. I'm torn between feeling compassion, yet angry because we have a group of people who have no rights telling us how it's going to be. There's no easy answers, but they are there. We have to keep options open until we find the middle ground.
Posted By Anonymous Lee Fairfield Iowa : 12:22 PM ET
She thinks she should be able to stay because of her children? She broke the law. What does that tell her children? She should have found a way to make a life in her OWN COUNTRY! I feel no sympathy for these felons. She was breaking the law when she had her children and is still breaking the law. I as an american citizen would be thrown in jail if I continued to break the law IN PLAIN SIGHT! Send her and her children back to Mexico and that way she can bug her own govt for a better life. The Target and Taco Bell that hired her should be shut down for hiring a 14 year old ILLEGAL alien. The job she is holding right now with insurance should be given to an American citizen. Remember how many Americans do not have health insurance? My own son included. There is nothing for him. Do I sound upset - yes I am. This country needs to wake up and start taking care of the citizens here and quit giving it all away to illegals. I work and have worked for years. I have paid taxes for years and it irks me to no end that one of my children cannot find a job with health insurance. My taxes are paying for people in this country illegally to have food stamps, wic, medical care etc, when my own AMERICAN CITIZEN son cannot get help of any kind. Truly amazing!!!!
Posted By Anonymous Juli, Springfield ILL : 12:24 PM ET
The only sadness in this story is that she was too young to understand the possible consequences of her actions when she came here.

People do matter. No doubt about it. But by excusing people like Maria our overburdened social service programs, schools, etc, can not provide adequate services to many other people who are here legally!

The system can only support so much. If we want to be able to continue to support and help people, we must be cautious with our resources.

The ironic thing about these stories is how self centered these people are, "poor me. I can't get, X, Y, Z. You need to change the laws to accomodate me."

Yet very, very few of these people ever exercise the perspective to ponder how mass illegal immigration has hurt OTHER people, including legal immigrants and other under privledged individuals.
Posted By Anonymous ST, Seattle : 12:25 PM ET
I'm going to say what millions of Americans feel right now. Putting a fence along the border with Mexico isn't going to solve anything. If anything, all it's going to do is just piss people off especially in other countries. The majority of people come to America to look for work. So why isn't anybody going after the employers who employ these people. Go after the employers and you solve the problem of illegal immigration. Fine the employers and put them in jail. Remember, there the ones breaking the law here. Right now the the whole system is broke on doing anything against employers. Congress and the Senate, are you really listening to the American public? Or are you catering to special interest groups for your own political interested?
Posted By Anonymous Richard, Salt Lake City, UT : 12:30 PM ET
Its Americans like you Brant...that give the rest of us a bad rap. Looking at this using common sense, the girl survived abuse by a man (who was also obviously narrow minded) and made it to be a self supporting mother who works to provide for her children. To go from victim of child abuse to working at a large hospital is commendable. I would agree that this needs to be a case by case basis. What our government is proposing is to send her back to a country without a job or her children. COmmon sense also tells me that the children who are being caught up in this tragedy may result in costing society more money and resources as our government moves ahead with plans to make these children assentially orphans.
Posted By Anonymous Lexi, Seattle WA : 12:35 PM ET
Wow! Bryant,I guess you should see if you have a heart. Yes its wrong what Maria did,but years have gone by. She did not sit on her butt and asked for hand outs,she made a better life for herself and grew from there.Case by Case and weigh all options.
Posted By Anonymous Jeff Gardner,Ma : 12:37 PM ET
If you decide to break the law then you must face the consequences if caught. Yes, you can't help but feel for Maria Christian Garcia, but at the same time both she and all illegal immigrants must accept this is what could happen if you decide to skip the rules and disobey United States Law. The law is black and white, there is no case-by-case basis or grey areas. Whether you steal a car or a loaf of bread, it is stealing and the company you stole from has the right to ban you from entering their stores and to prosecute you to the full extent of the law. As for the argument that deportation would break up families, again, a person willing to break a country's laws must also be willing to accept the consequence. When a criminal is sent to jail, doesn't their family get broken up? Should we pardon criminals who happen to have children? Again, illegal immigration is against the law; therefore, an illegal immigrant is a criminal. There is no getting around that unless the laws are changed and there is no in between status either.
Posted By Anonymous Katherine, Woodland Hills CA : 12:37 PM ET
Maria or anyone for that matter at 14, pretty much would not have much say where her parents take her.

People here are saying punish her for being and staying here. Throw her out with her family (which includes 2 Americans) and go back where she came from no matter what human suffering might come out of it.

One question, if after many years her 2 American children come back here after living in squalor in Mexico, would they look at your children with compassion?
Posted By Anonymous Jason P Gary, IN : 1:04 PM ET
She broke the law and now gets the punishment. Send her home and she can try to get back here legally. Now she is trying to rely on the biased news broadcasting in this country for compassion and sympathy. Just like any other criminal she will be seperated from her family. Guess that she should have thought about that before. She does not have my sympathy. I just wish that more of these illegals that stand there talking to reporters admitting they are illegal are sent home too. I for one am tired of footing the bill for them. Let's take care of our own.
Posted By Anonymous Ed, Moscow, Idaho : 1:07 PM ET
I agree with all who sympathize with Maria Garcia, which is why I support President Bush's proposal to offer a "fast-track" to legal status for illegal immigrants currently in this country. This will take care of people like Maria who have children who are U.S. citizens by virtue of their birth here. Additionally, it will keep our economy on an even keel, by protecting immigrant workers whose labor is so vital to our economy. It is the issue of the "temporary work permits", such as those that failed so miserably under the Reagan Administration that I oppose. Otherwise I praise Bush highly for taking this initiative!
Posted By Anonymous Judy D. Lafayette, Louisiana : 1:07 PM ET
I agree with Paige B., Austin, TX Immigrants should be judged on a case-by-case basis, but starting out with your first action being a crime certainly doesn't help ones case and that willingness to commit a crime and enter the country illegally is a strong indicator of ones character and willingness to disregard other laws. Do we really want that kind of person as a citizen?
Unless you are a member of a native american tribe your family has immigrant roots. I have a friend who was born in another country and immigrated here legally. This isn't an issue of immigrants vs. "native born", this is an issue of people following the legal proceedure (yes, it is a long one) vs. ones who are willing to ignor the law to get what they want no matter the consequences.
Posted By Anonymous Janine H, Tacoma WA : 1:07 PM ET
If you break the law, if you enter the country illegally, you must accept the consequences. The reasons for breaking the law don't matter.
Posted By Anonymous L. Woods, Indianapolis, Indiana : 1:13 PM ET
Katherine of CA

You're telling me that you will not trespass through a property (and break the law) to get to the river and drink EVEN if you have been lost in the wilderness for many days without food or water?

Let's get off our high horses here OK?
Posted By Anonymous Kate Lehman Chicago, IL : 1:16 PM ET
I am a legal immigrant in this country. I am currently applying for my green card for the last 5 years. My family plan to go home to my home country without a job if the US government rejects my application. We will be separated from the rest of our families in the US. Why? Because this is the law of this nation and we respect it. I truly have a lot of sympathy for Maria. What happened to her is very unfortunate. However, we can not deny the fact that she broke the law entering this country illegally. In my opinion, if we allow her to stay or gain legal status, then we are setting a precedence that the prerequisite for illegal immigrant to get an ammesty is to have a US citizen child and a family in the US.
I strongly believe that ammesty is a slap in the face for all the legal immigrants in this country and people who are waiting in line trying to get into this country.
By the way, I am not trying to offend anybody, but this is truly what I believe.
Posted By Anonymous Chang, Lima, Ohio : 1:19 PM ET
Yes, it is unfortunate that she was not aware of the consequences when she immigrated here at 14. I do not agree with the idea that if your kid is born here than you get to stay too. Send them all to Mexico. And for those who apparently cannot read, ie. Lexi, this woman's kids will stay with their father. My intention is not to sound heartless, as I understand how unfortunate her situation is, but nonetheless she broke the law. Breaking the law has consequences.
Posted By Anonymous John. Fairfax, VA : 1:21 PM ET
What affect does her age (14), and her minority (under the age of 18)- at the time of the alleged commission of the offense - have? Should it have any affect? And what affect should the discussed mitigating factors play? US law is never as black and white as has been portrayed in the commentary.
Posted By Anonymous Todd, Dayton, Ohio : 1:28 PM ET
It's quite sad to see so many people cite the fact that she "broke the law" by coming into this country.

Do not lose sight of the fact that she is working to support her children, she is contributing to society rather than a drain and she is waht the american dream is all about.

It's shameful that you would want her to be deported and returned on the basis of infingement of the law and yet are quite happy to re elect a real criminal ie Bush, and allow this administration to get away with murder - literally
Posted By Anonymous R. Dasani, Phoenix AZ : 1:29 PM ET
She needs to go. I have no sympathy for illegal aliens. They are criminals in my book, no matter their sad story. When we erect our 370 miles of triple depth fence along the border, it needs to be electrified with razor wire on the top. These people have no right to be in our country, but they act like WE have no right to keep our country for legal citizens. They are wrong. If Mexico is so riled up about their rights, let Mexico do right by them and pay the bill.
Posted By Anonymous CeeBee, Clarksville, TN : 1:30 PM ET
The main sticking points in the whole immigration problem are: (1) There are TOO MANY people who want to move here instead of improve their own countries, and their own countries, especially Mexico and Vicente Fox, don't care about their own people.
(2) We can't have millions of Marias coming here and having their babies. Our children and grandchildren deserve our country's benefits, not the whole Third World. The 14th Amendment should be repealed. We ARE under invasion.
(3) Our government should be putting tough pressure on Vicente Fox to improve his own economy and start caring about his own people. Mexicans should be told to demonstrate in their OWN country for their OWN government to clean itself up and care about them.
Posted By Anonymous Jean, Kansas City : 1:30 PM ET
I feel sorry for Maria Garcia, but I wonder about the details that are not in the story. She has two kids but no husband. In my neck of the woods that screams that at some point she likely did get social service help for her family and potentially still is. Her current situation shows that she is trying, but that doesn't mean that all is forgiven and forgotten. The saddest part is that she could come up with the $8000 to give the "consultant". I know too many people who can't feed their kids properly to have too much sympathy.
Posted By Anonymous Tina, Columbia MO : 1:31 PM ET
Does Maria have a husband? Is he an American citizen? Surely the father of her children can help or is he, too, illegal. My heart goes out to her; but, she is here illegally. Perhaps Jose Hernandez can help her rather than just pointing a finger at the government and its policies! I love the attitude, nothing can be done. Some lawyer! Could this possibly a charade in order to garner sympathy for illegals?
Posted By Anonymous Lou, San Diego, CA : 1:31 PM ET
I have no sympathy for this woman. If she's getting jobs and health insurance and paying taxes and renting an apartment, then clearly she is using bogus social security information as so many illegals do. She should be setting a good example for her children instead of displaying this criminal behavior and breaking American laws for her own convenience. Good riddance.
Posted By Anonymous Jennifer, Reston VA : 1:32 PM ET
There was NO ONE to help her escape abuse in Mexico? I find this hard to beleive. Yes, I feel badly for any 14 year old child who has to run from home to be safe, but no one made her cross the border. Teenagers are impulsive and not always logical, yet they still need to be held accountable. Good for her for making something of her life, but now it is time to pay the consequences of your actions. As far as having to leave her family behind, if you have 2 sons and are pregnant again, marry the father of your children.
Posted By Anonymous Betsy, Lake Crystal MN : 1:36 PM ET
You know illegal immigration is a problem when a liberal/moderate (myself) has to argue the conservative side.
Posted By Anonymous Rob, Washington DC : 1:38 PM ET
It is truly sad to see comments like Brant, Juli and Katherine's.

One bright side to this debate is that we find out who we really are by how we treat other people.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

When our forefathers wrote 'all men', I wonder if they really meant only U.S. citizens.
Posted By Anonymous R. Burns St. Louis, MO : 1:40 PM ET
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame,
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

-Emma Lazarus, 1883 "The New Colossus"
Ellis Island, NY - Engraved at the base of the Statue of Liberty
Posted By Anonymous L LaSalla, 25, Austin TX : 1:41 PM ET
I feel absolutely nothing for this woman. I am, instead, sorry for my neigbor in Oregon, who just lost his home. He was, you see, a house painting contractor. He was licensed by the state, paid his taxes, and did good work. He simply could compete with illegals driving around in vans, being paid in cash, who pay no taxes, are not licensed, and send their money home. If it were in my power, I would the children of ilegals of American citizenship, confiscate all of their assets, and ship them home. These people are parasites. They are thieves. They have stole money and jobs from Amercicans. And they are not supposed to be here. They are ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS and everything they have made here is illegal. Why don't people understand that?
Posted By Anonymous Mike Brooks, Eugene, OR : 1:42 PM ET
She broke the law, and now she must face the consequences for her actions. It is her children that she leaves behind that should be acknowledged as sympathetic--not her.

She should apply for citizenship properly this time, and wait in line with the millions of other people immigrating to the states.
Posted By Anonymous Jake, Wheeling IL : 2:04 PM ET
Yes, it's all about human rights. Poor Maria. Just trying to make a better life and all.... Sure, let her stay. And you know what? There are billions of people living in third world countries that would probably like a better life also. We should let them come here too. After all, we can't just expect them to fix their own countries so they could make a life for themselves there.
They should all come here so American taxpayers can educate their children, pay for their medical expenses and give them jobs at the expense of our own citizens. Who cares if they drive wages down in any job sector they invade. Surely Americans don't want those jobs anyway.
After all, it's about the people, not our laws.
If things get too bad, maybe we can all sneak into Canada.
Posted By Anonymous John Silvers, Seattle WA : 2:05 PM ET
Maria Garcia's situation is unfortunate, but the existing law is clear on her status and situation. We are always dealing with human beings - the migrants themselves, people on all sides of the immigration question, unemployed or underemployed American workers - they are all human stories. The SOB's who defrauded her are part of a larger problem of various hucksters and predators from employers, money changers, smugglers, labor brokers and others who regularly exploit the migrants, and generally get away with it.

I find the recurring remarks about the "losses" caused by illegal immigration, both from readers and various commentators, to be the most interesting.

One has to wonder if "illegals" are also somehow responsible for our apparent utter failure to teach economics in our schools?

It is more and more common to see comments on how the US supposedly "loses" on account of migrants export of dollars back to their homelands, particularly Mexico.

This assumption not only ignores fundamental economics, it also displays complete ignorance of the cross-border economy. Mexico is a huge import market for American goods, both in "official" commerce, and in legal private commerce, such as used cars, and retail purchases. Dollars dominate the economy of northern Mexico, and make their way back to the US steadily, as any retailer on the border will attest.

There is no flight of capital - dollars in Mexico readily circulate back into the US economy.

It's interesting that alleged "losses" to the US economy caused by "illegals" exporting their earnings is cited, yet other major sources of currency movement in both directions are conveniently ignored.

What about billions in "losses" when white, American yuppies export their dollars to the likes of the El Mayo Zambada or Arellano-Felix cartels to support their cocaine use?

What about billions in "losses" (and labor flight) when hundreds of American companies such as GM, Ford, Belkin and many, many more move manufacturing operations to Mexico?

What about billions in pesos annually converted to dollars by working class, middle class and affluent Mexicans (with legal border crossing cards) to do their shopping in the US at retailers from WalMart to Nordstroms?

What about billions in pesos converted to dollars by Mexicans and (legally) invested in the US, as a hedge against peso inflation and instability?

Currency is moving in both directions, for the benefit of both country's economies, but somehow, the only aspect of this which is currently fashionable is to single out the alleged "losses" caused by illegals by exporting dollars.
Posted By Anonymous Michael, San Diego, CA : 2:09 PM ET
You have to wonder, though, what the "right" thing to do is . . . I mean, if we deport all of the illegal immigrants, then don't we potentially end up with a bunch of parentless children who are citizens of this country? And then what? Turn them to the streets? Have someone else adopt them and raise them just because Mom and Dad were undocumented? You can't terminate someone's parental rights just because they broke the law.

I'm all for immigration reform. My grandmother came here from the Netherlands, and she had to learn the language, the culture, and the answers to a citizenship test that most of us would fail. It's an insult to those of us who are here as the heritage of someone who worked hard to become part of this country when others can be here illegally and assume all of the rights and freedoms that citizenship entails just because we aren't sure what else to do with them.

So, sure. Round them up and send them home. Build the walls first so that they can't come right back in. But what do you do with the kids who are left behind?
Posted By Anonymous RMMcDowell; Grand Rapids, MI : 2:14 PM ET
To Judy D. Lafayette, Louisiana. "Fast track" to getting legal status, I don't think so! Why fast track them, when there are thousands of people who are waiting in line to get that document. You break the law, you pay the price. Maria's story I'm sure is one of many running away from an abusive relative - how do we know it's true? They all make up stories of why they are here. I do commend her for making a life for herself at least she showed the spirit of doing the right thing, working, paying taxes and is not a burden on taxpayers. Fast-tracking these people just says that it's OK to do this, and if you do, then you'll jump to the front of the line. I say - Take a number!
Posted By Anonymous Ursula Bine, Falls Church,VA. : 2:14 PM ET
Don't cry for Maria. Her children will have access to one of the best health care systems in the world, for free. They will be educated for free and will probably receive social security and public housing/foster care for free. And, they could always go back with her so it's not the end of the world. She just lost a little money and has to go back to her country of origin.

Cry for the people that don't make it out of the desert or expire in the back of an 18 wheeler, or die in an 8 passenger van holding 16 illegals that slides off the side of the road.
Posted By Anonymous mike from Houston : 2:15 PM ET
I'm sorry for Mike Brooks neighbor in Oregon. But, fact of the matter is it was not the illegal that took his job but the customers who decided that they were not willing to pay more.

This is the reason why we send our jobs overseas or buy cheap made in China goods.

We have a huge neon sign seen all over the world 24/7. IF WE NEED IT AND YOU CAN SELL IT TO US FOR THE LOWEST PRICE, THEN WE WANT IT.. .SOLD !! to the LOWEST BIDDER.

No emotions or mystery there, sad to say, it's just plain old economics.
Posted By Anonymous Raymond - Durham, NC : 2:18 PM ET
The bottom line is Ms. Garcia made decisions that created chaos in her life, including entering the country ILLEGALLY, having children out of wedlock, and now publicizing her story as if the government and society are accountable to make her life better.
Posted By Anonymous Tina - Chicago IL : 2:19 PM ET
Too bad, too bad. I don't care about Maria's plight. There are too many unskilled workers in the U.S. With three kids, not married, all in schools paid for by taxpayers. Does she pay her own rent? Are the children on subsidies? Well, if not, they are eligible. The real cost of illegals is sky high. We can't afford any more "cheap labor" and shame on her employers.
Posted By Anonymous Mary Ellen Blinn, Woodland Hills California : 2:21 PM ET
This issue has turned me into a conservative Republican after a lifetime of liberal thinking. I am all
for the wall, huge fines for businesses
that hire illegals and free bus trips
back to their country of origin for any illegal caught in our country. I can't fathom the audacity of the demonstrators demanding anything more from the American people then they've already taken. We, as Americans, need to focus on our own people. Look at the homeless on the streets in any big city or at the poor in Appalachia or the people in New Orleans trying to recover. These people deserve all that we can give them. Yet we worry about people who came here illegally, disregard our laws, pay no taxes, get free medical care and schooling for their children and proudly wave the flags of their native countries in our faces ! Are we all insane !
Posted By Anonymous Bud De Santis Spring Lake N.J. : 2:21 PM ET
I fell bad for this girl. But one thing that bothers the hell out of me is " Where did she get $8000 dollars from? Also who paid for the hospital bill and supports the kids? She broke the law and if she is not deported then she should be made to pay a large fine, plus go the right route to becoming a citizen of the US.
Posted By Anonymous Sharon Graham, NC : 2:21 PM ET
When the Elian Gonzalez case was news our government was quick to say that he should be with his father. Now some in this country want to separate parents from children and husbands from wives. If Maria is sent back she will not be able to apply to come back legally for 10 years according to current immigration law. By that time her children will practically be adults. These children are U.S. citizens. Don't they have the right to have their mother with them. I'm not sure of the status of the father, but even if he is a U.S. citizen he can do nothing to help his wife stay since she entered illegally. The law says she must be deported. These laws are against what we stand for as a country. I think that we need to look at these issues on a case by case basis. I'm so sick of the Republicans talking about family values when they are the ones that want to break up so many families.
Posted By Anonymous Karen, Southern Pines, NC : 2:24 PM ET
Very impressive piece on Maria. Multiply her story by thousands, and you have a picture of the absolutely inhumane practises of this government.
For all these imbeciles who cry for Latins to follow "legal immigration" this is the obvious reply.
At the time most of our ancestors came to this country, ANYONE COULD COME. Then the laws started to be changed. The first to be excluded were Black People. Each racial type has had its turn in being denounced by the majority population.
When will the American People understand that poor immigrants coming to America and being made citizens actually improve the lot of each of us?
When will the simple fact sink in that if the 12 million undocumented are given citizenship, the wages of each and every American will raise?
The hidden Slave labor work force needs to be integrated into legal status. The instant that happens, they will have the power to raise their wages. That in turn will raise the value of all Americans work/and wages.
Posted By Anonymous Les Whisler Washburn IL 61570 : 2:28 PM ET
Never have I read more hateful and ignorant comments. Where is your compassion for your fellow man?

Take responsibilty for your own lives and stop blaming others. If your son is unable to find a job that provides him heath care then get an EDUCATION and get a better job! Or perhaps he had his heart set on the back breaking labor that the immigrants happily do all over this country.
Posted By Anonymous Nichole, Colorado Springs, CO : 2:36 PM ET
I am a legal immigrant, respected the law and waited in line through the lengthy process, underwent FBI, CIA and Interpol checks and finally became a US citizen - a process that took 12 years, so I can talk with qualification.
A warning to fellow Americans - if you don't protect what is rightfully yours, you will lose it.
Posted By Anonymous Al Smith, Atlanta, GA : 2:36 PM ET
I feel deeply for those who are in the U.S. illegally. Notwithstanding my sympathy, they have broken the law and should be held accountable. Not only the illegal ones but also those who harbor them by providing employment should suffer the full brunt of the state. The very recent demonstrations were no more than a preview of the conduct of people who have no respect for the rule of law. Taken to the extreme, 100,000 people will be able to stand outside a court and demand that the judge free a defendant because the crowd believes that it can make such demands as a result of their numbers or their "economic" power. This is what awaits us as a nation unless we vigourously enforce our laws.
Posted By Anonymous Etienne B. Silver Spring, MD : 2:37 PM ET
You say she and her American children will be deported. That will be a first! Is she actually going to show up at the hearing. When she paid $8,000 for citizenship did she really believe it was legal? How on earth did you find such a story? What percentage of illegals does she represent and what percentage do you believe are criminals? Nice story though.
Posted By Anonymous Kelly,Boca Raton,FL : 2:37 PM ET
I Just LOVE how everyone is jumping on the bandwagon with the whole "they're breaking the law", "criminal behavior" comments. UNDOCUMENTED immigrants may be breaking the "laws of the land" but it is to to work and provide for their families. What is our excuse for breaking the laws of this land: speeding, lying on our tax returns, etc.

John 8:7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her
Posted By Anonymous Nancy, Riverside, CA : 2:37 PM ET
As a legal immigrant I find it hard to sympathize with Maria. I am still going through the long, time consuming, expensive process to remain in this country. I've done everything to follow the process and the laws of immigrating to this country. I am married to a citizen but that does not give me a free pass to become one myself. For whatever reason, the BCIS can deny my application going further and deport me, my husband can't do anything about it.

Some of you have recommended Maria marry the father of her children but I don't believe that will save her from being deported. She's done well to take care of herself and raise her children and she is probably paying taxes if she has a SS card, but the fact remains that she broke the law by entering and working illegally and it does not set a good precedent to allow her to stay while others who are doing the right thing continue to wait while illegals jump ahead of them.

This story is just another way to evoke an emotion from the masses about the government's action to finally do something about the rate of illegal immigration.

Its a sad story, but for every sad story you read, there's a sadder one. It doesn't change the fact that the U.S. has an immigration process and those who don't comply will pay the consequences eventually.
Posted By Anonymous Trish, San Francisco, CA : 2:41 PM ET
This is a truly amazing story, which I am sure it is a rare one.Yes, she did break the law what I do not understand is why Americans group all of "these people" in one category. Now, as Peter reported she is working and paying taxes unless I misunderstood something. First job at Taco Bell, second Target and now a large hospital. Now these places withhold taxes and give you healthcare if your full time. I also believe you make pretty good money, and I do not know if she is obtaining WIC. Nor do I care, but at least she is working. Now, was she not running from an abusive father ok, who is left in Mexico for her maybe a Mother doubt it. Her family is in CA. I really feel this is a stickey situation that needs to be handled carefully these are human beings. It should make us as Americans feel proud they want to even come here. I agree with the people who stated these cases need to be judged on a case to case basis. Not grouped and judged by people who want bitch about spending their tax payers dollars and the Gov.'s time. I would rather see my money being spent on the Gov. investing in keeping a good hardworking woman with her family then tearing them apart. Whether she broke the law or not.
Posted By Anonymous Lark Little Rock, Arkansas : 2:44 PM ET
There are a billion such sob stories in the world.

Even if we decide that this is our role in the world, to fix all the evils, all the abused children - shouldn't we be taking the worst first? The children who are orphaned by war, and forced into the military or sex slavery? The family who is watching their children starve due to a drought? There are a billion stories worse than this one, and we can't fit them all in here. And even if we could, it would change nothing for the next generation and the next.

The only real solutions have to do with helping the countries themselves reform, and even then there will be problems - we have so very many here, so many abused children, neglected and killed by their parents - why not take care of them first!
Posted By Anonymous Lisa Henderson, Bothell, WA : 2:45 PM ET
The employers of illegal aliens are to blame. The're the ones who should be fined and prosecuted. If an "illegal" knew he or she would definitely not be hired because of an illegal status, he or she would not come here in the first place. I also believe the laws need to be changed so that a child born of an illegal would not have "American citizen" status if the mother is not an American citizen.
Posted By Anonymous M.Szmyd, Jeannette, PA : 2:50 PM ET
I really am getting sick and tired of CNN's biased reporting. I'm with the guy that wants fair reporting, tell the other side of the illegal problem. Tell how many are on Los Angeles County's most wanted list! Tell how many small counties in the USA that have had to close their county hospitals because of ILLEGALS running in like the vermin they are to have a "legal" child, FREE!!! Quit reporting this kind of crap to pray on the good people of America's sympathy! Shame on you!
Posted By Anonymous Irene, Dallas, Texas : 3:02 PM ET
We really need to straighten out people's understanding of why it is that any illegal alien giving birth in this country suddenly gives that infantAmerican citizenship. What is right about that picture? Don't seperate these families. Keep them together and deport them all.
Posted By Anonymous Judy McFarland, Fremont, CA : 3:04 PM ET
Wow! What I didn't know is that a temporary visa is granted to illegals while their paperwork is in process and they legally can get a drivers license and social security card. Once you have it, you're gold! If these persons avoid deportation, they can then live legally here, while still being illegal. That's an amazing loop hole. If their paperwork was not approved, people should not be given temporary visas. That's another scam waiting to happen.
Posted By Anonymous Kimberly Ransom Tustin, CA : 3:11 PM ET
And they will continue to break the law in order to survive.

Easy choice, stay in Mexico and starve or cross the desert, risk life and limb for a chance at having your children grow up with 3 meals a day.
Posted By Anonymous Steve BB Chicago, IL : 3:17 PM ET
The law desperately needs changing. People sneaking into this country and reproducing automatically making their offspring's citizens is wrong. If you are here illegally and reproduce your offspring's should be considered illegal too. All of them should be deported. If they want to be here legally stand in line behind people trying to do the right thing and apply for legal immigration status. They all use the old sad story while breaking our laws.
Posted By Anonymous Jay Bryan, North Carolina : 3:18 PM ET
Jesus Christ what is wrong with this world. We forgive murders and child abusers because even though they committed an unspeakable CRIME...they are after all AMERICAN CITIZENS!

We are angry that "these people" take our jobs, etc, etc. and how they got here was illegal. They should all be sent packing, right? Because after all they committed a crime--they came here to the land of the free..illegally.
Posted By Anonymous Alma, Arlington TX : 3:24 PM ET
There are some ignorant "Americans" in here. What goes around comes around.

If so many "unsuccessful" Americans would get off their lazy asses and do some of these hard labor jobs, maybe illegals would have less of a chance to get a job.

Americans complain too much. The last time I checked it was us "Americans" who invaded this land and declare it the land of opportunity. Now that someone has a better opportunity than your lazy get jealous.

After reading some of these comments, I feel no sympathy for the "Americans" who are struggling with life. It is your own damn fault not capitalizing on these opportunities; thus, you get mad when an illegal comes and take the opportunity. First blame yourself and your neighbors for these economic problems, and then you can find a scapegoat.
Posted By Anonymous James, Milwaukee, WI : 3:25 PM ET
It is truly phenomenal how the American people like to stand upon their Rameumptom and pridefully declare that the Latin immigrants do not deserve to have their inalienable, God given rights protected. How easy it is to espouse perfect justice while standing in the spotlight, yet how many of those quiver for mercy while standing in the shadows. I would be interested in knowing how many of those Americans who insist on absolute justice are obeying every law of this Country. Ye Hypocrites. The day will come when you will find yourselves begging for the mercy that you so quickly have denied to others. I pray that you receive the compassion, which you refuse to grant to others, when that day arrives and not the cold hearted justice that you have sowed.
Posted By Anonymous Carl Anderson, Lincoln, Nebraska : 3:27 PM ET
The attorney is right. Don't tell, don't apply unless you have a squeaky clean record. Anyone who has been working under someone else's social security number (i.d. theft) is a felon and will not be eligible for amnesty anyway. The attorney speaks the truth, even though it's not pleasant advice for a lot of hopefuls.
Posted By Anonymous Gypsy, an American in Mexico : 3:29 PM ET
When she came here she broke the law, took jobs from legal Americans, or won't we work at Taco Bell or Target and probably had the American people pay for her two kids to be born. It's time to say enough is enought. If you're illegal JUST GO HOME!!!
Posted By Anonymous James, San Diego : 3:31 PM ET
It took my family years to go through the immigration and naturalization process so that they could enter this country legally and become citizens in accordance to the laws of the USA. I am a California resident, and it enrages me when I see how we bend over backwards for these people flowing over the border of Mexico and into California. They clog up the schools with kids that WON'T learn English, they clog up the health system getting free medical when I have to pay plenty out of every single paycheck for mine, and then they have the audacity to protest when we tell them they have no right to be here? Give me a huge break - obey the laws and wait your turn in line or get out! No fast track and no amnesty. What's the point of having laws if you're just going to look the other way because a bunch of illegal aliens start popping out babies? Everyone has a sob story, when they want to gain sympathy for their cause. Maria knew she was coming into this country illegally, even at the age of 14. And the only way she got that job at that hospital was by lying again, and producing a fake Social Security card. She doesn't deserve to be here, and just because she gave birth to her children here doesn't give them the right to stay, either. She should have thought about her children when she decided to become a criminal.
Posted By Anonymous Carla Capineri, Crescent City, CA : 3:39 PM ET
I am going to share my experience.

I came to the US five years ago following the immigration process (which is really absurd) and the first thing I did was enroll in ESL(English as Second Language) classes, when I received my work authorization I started looking for a job, since I did not have experience in the country (even though I have a bachelor's degree in CS and lot of experience in my old country), I ended up working on a warehouse lifting boxes at minimum wage ($5.15), in that place meet only illegal immigrants (undocumented workers, aliens or whatever you decided to call them) and almost all of them were taking English classes and their dreams were to be fluent and get a better job, but never heard a complaint about how hard the job was or the weather, all seem so happy just to have a job and be here. After six months there I was promoted to work on the offices doing mostly anything from fixing pipes to design sketches, and I did it because that is the way I was raise and the work culture I grew up. At the same time I started a master�s degree in CS where I�ve got an scholarship, I was paying rent, school books, paying tuition, saving money and sending money to my relatives in my hometown, I did all of that with a salary of 8.50 per hour, no benefits, no bonus.

After two years I graduate and got a great job opportunity (I am making 75,000 per year), I took a written test, a practical test and three interviews, and I got it, now I am in my second anniversary in this great job, one can say I have reached the American dream and I felt it was, but no long I have an encounter with a guy that scream racism comments against me when I was in the park, I was told to go back to my jungle in Mexico (even tough I am not Mexican) and to stop stealing jobs from job good Americans, and since I was talking to my mom in Spanish that guy told us to shut up and speak English; I am the first one to recognize that my English is no good (I have a terrible accent and my vocabulary is not very extend either) , but when he told us �you is a f�people, shut your as�and speaks English� I realized that he did not go college and barely graduate from HS. Racism and animosity towards anybody that does not look �American� has increased thanks to all this debate that has been done without any compassion.

With an unemployment rate under 5%, nobody can claim that somebody is stealing their jobs, and if you are out of work, go back to school, make yourself more marketable, meanwhile cut back expenses, get any job and start working for a better job than you had.
Posted By Anonymous AV, Chicago, Il : 3:50 PM ET
This is a sad story, but it has a happy ending. Maria gets to go home! Her American children get to stay here with their dad! In Louisiana I worked for a local realtor while going back to grad school. All of the workers building the houses were hispanics, all of the businesses were run by locals. Talking to the contractors I found out that not a single dollar in Federal withholding, state taxes, SS or Med was being paid. Also no workman's comp, because injured workers were simply replaced. You should take your cameras to any large scale housing complex and count how many of the workers are illegals. My bet is 90% or higher.
Posted By Anonymous Joe D., BR, LA : 3:51 PM ET
Everyone talks about the mexicans coming here illegally,if there was a better way i'm sure most of them would do it.It cost to apply to enter the United States legally,therefore if you have people who can't even afford to eat how can they pay to get legal status here before actually being here to work and make money.I think they should make it easier for the ones here to get a work permit,that would put them paying taxes,they can have a driver's license so that they can have insurance.Which in return would help all of us.I am disabled and can't work so my husband who is an illegal immigrant works 70 to 80 hours a week to support my family.I have three children who are from a previous marriage,he makes sure they are well provided for.As far as the border we need to do something to protect it,we need to know who and what is coming into the United States.
Posted By Anonymous Teresa Bebee,AR : 3:55 PM ET
Everyone has a sob story. Does that make a crime any less of a crime? Sometimes the good of the whole have to be thought of, not the pitiful fate of the one.
Posted By Anonymous Elizabeth Shaw, Travelers Rest, SC : 3:55 PM ET
One thing no one has mentioned here is Maria WORKED here for years. She worked at Taco Bell, Target and for a hospital...all this time abiding by our laws...with the exception of our anti-Mexican immigration laws. She did not rob banks, run drugs, become a prostitute, or break any REAL laws. She worked, and she worked hard for what she has. Some illegal�s come here and suck anything from our government they can but she did not! People who come here, abide by our laws, and work hard should be allowed to stay!
Posted By Anonymous David Jones., Abilene, TX : 4:13 PM ET
Yes, this is very similar to the U.S military policy of "Don't Ask, Don"t Tell". But when the military does discover a Homosexual among their ranks, they are given a discharge from the military. And rightly so.

Posted By Anonymous Don Rollo, San Diego, CA : 4:14 PM ET
That is an unbelievable response Nichole! My son cannot afford to get the "rest" of his education because Grant money for poor "AMERICAN" students has dried up since Bush took office. Oh Iknow he can go into 1000's of debt taking out student loans. You are a joke and so is your opinion. Obviously you only have compassion for a sob story not a real live AMERICAN citizen with real issues.
Posted By Anonymous juli, Springfield ILL : 4:15 PM ET
The reason I think that people are upset is that it is NOT acceptable for people to flee from tyranny and economic depression. It is necessary for people to stay in the country of their birth and fight for it. Americans are fed up with fighting for other peoples freedom. Mexico has some really, really screwed up laws. I think President Bush, Senator's Kennedy, McCain and many others are NOT doing anything other than rewarding Mexico. Its the 21st century, isn't it time we stopped this nonesense?
Posted By Anonymous Kim, Midland Michigan : 4:34 PM ET
From Peter Viles

Thanks for the many thougthful and heartfelt comments. A couple of you asked questions that have answers, and I'll try to answer a few:
--Could Maria's age (14 when she came to America) be used as a "mitigating factor" in fighting deportation? In a word, no. The hard-liners reading this blog will be reassured to know that, when it comes to challenging deportation, the U.S. government sets a very high standard. The immigrant must establish that deportation would cause "exceptional and extremly unusual hardship." A mother being separated from young children, by itself, is not extremely unusual. This is why Maria is on the brink of being deported.
--Someone else asked why her lawyer, Jose Hernandez, isn't trying to help her. He is -- right now he's trying to convince the government to consider new evidence that would speak to the hardship presented by Maria's pending deportation. I apologize to him if I gave the impression he is not trying to help her.
--Lastly, there were questions about Maria's marital status. Her common-law husband, the father of all three of her children, lives with her. He is also illegal, but through one of the many flukes of U.S. immigration law, is not being deported, so he can stay in the U.S.
Posted By Anonymous Peter Viles, Los Angeles : 11:47 PM ET
I am sorry, but it is not enough to say "It's not fair, it is the law". When human beings are involved, that just does not do it for me. The law needs to be changed!!
Posted By Anonymous Carol Erbes, Norfolk, Va. : 7:21 PM ET
Why just stop at Mexico, Central and South America. What about the rest of the globe? Europe? Middle East? Asia? I really feel that this is the chance for all true democrats to unite. Each democratic family can adopt a immigrant family of their very own! Think about what a great idea this is! Each democratic family can work three jobs each so that their immigrant family can do nothing and reap the benefits. I for one want to become a Mexican citizen. I will then live along the border. Every time that I need medical care or work I can just cross over and get what I want. And if not, I can just get CNN to interview me and I can turn on the water works for added benefit. America, what a great country for all non citizens!
Posted By Anonymous Dave in Chicago : 2:48 PM ET
A behind the scenes look at "Anderson Cooper 360°" and the stories it covers, written by Anderson Cooper and the show's correspondents and producers.

    What's this?
CNN Comment Policy: CNN encourages you to add a comment to this discussion. You may not post any unlawful, threatening, libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic or other material that would violate the law. Please note that CNN makes reasonable efforts to review all comments prior to posting and CNN may edit comments for clarity or to keep out questionable or off-topic material. All comments should be relevant to the post and remain respectful of other authors and commenters. By submitting your comment, you hereby give CNN the right, but not the obligation, to post, air, edit, exhibit, telecast, cablecast, webcast, re-use, publish, reproduce, use, license, print, distribute or otherwise use your comment(s) and accompanying personal identifying information via all forms of media now known or hereafter devised, worldwide, in perpetuity. CNN Privacy Statement.