Teenager allowed to return to U.S.

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AIKEN --- After a few years of residency battles that attracted some national attention, 19-year-old Griselda Lopez Negrete recently received the news she had waited so long to hear.

Griselda Lopez Negrete was brought to the U.S. when she was 2.  Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Griselda Lopez Negrete was brought to the U.S. when she was 2.

At the U.S. consulate in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, in January, Ms. Lopez had to wait just one more minute and answer just four questions before being told she could return to her home in Aiken County and stay.

"I was kind of in shock. I asked three times if they were sure," she said. "It's weird that little piece of paper was all I needed. It's such a huge burden lifted."

Brought here illegally by her late mother, Rosa Lopez, as a toddler to meet her father, Javier, Ms. Negrete didn't know she was breaking the law until she was 15 years old.

While she was translating for an aunt seeking residency, immigration officials in Charleston, S.C., questioned Ms. Lopez's own residency status. The questioning caught her off guard, and she didn't know what was going on then, she said.

Since then, she has pushed through legal battles in between homework assignments and college applications. She didn't fill in the residency status of those college applications because she said she wasn't sure what to put down.

Her uncle and aunt, Pedro and Rosa Negrete, adopted her as a teenager, and she moved into their Aiken County home.

Ms. Negrete's story has become familiar throughout the area and has attracted national attention. A Google search of her name pulls up more than 200 articles and documents. They include strangers fighting on her behalf and neighbors complaining about her breaking immigration laws. U.S. Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., introduced a private bill on her behalf in 2004 that would have allowed her legalization.

The moment she arrived in Ciudad Juarez, Ms. Negrete said, she knew Mexico wasn't where she wanted to be. The scene was like something she saw on TV, with armed police lining the streets and violence every day.

The first few days were spent waiting in lines from 6 a.m. to well into the afternoon to pass physicals and continue paperwork.

She had left Aiken knowing she could be detained in Mexico -- punished for as many as three years for illegal immigration.

Walking into the initial interview, the first step in her appeal for legalization, she was asked to give her age, her name, where she was from and why she wanted to stay in Aiken. Then she was told she could stay in the United States.

Over the past four years, Ms. Negrete has worked with Columbia attorney Glenda Bunce, who specializes in immigration cases. Now pursuing a business management degree at the University of South Carolina Aiken, Ms. Negrete said she hopes her work will allow her to help others in similar situations.

"No matter how hard I try, I can't hide it; I didn't know what I was doing when I got here," she said. "There's a lot of bad people who come in to traffic drugs, and I know that amnesty is not a good solution to the problem. But there are also tons of teenagers like me who just want to work."

Reach Julia Sellers at (803) 648-1395, ext. 106, or julia.sellers@augustachronicle.com

BACKGROUND: Griselda Lopez Negrete, 19, was originally born in Mexico. She moved to the United States at age 2 with her mother and father. She found out she was an illegal immigrant at age 15 when she was translating for an aunt who was applying for legal residency.

UPDATE:


- Now a University of South Carolina Aiken sophomore studying business management


- Fought deportation for the past four years


- Given the OK to stay in Aiken last month

WHAT SHE'S GOING TO DO: The first thing she will do when she gets her final paperwork is apply for a driver's license, something she's wanted to do since she was 16.

Comments (15) Add comment
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patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 02/14/08 - 04:55 am
0
0
This rare exception proves

This rare exception proves the rule, the problem is at the border. No solution is in sight.

Ole School
0
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Ole School 02/14/08 - 06:31 am
0
0
HOORRAY ! the Girl earned it

HOORRAY ! the Girl earned it , sounds like a hard worker ! we need more hard workers that will carry their own !

stillamazed
1488
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stillamazed 02/14/08 - 08:05 am
0
0
As bad of a problem as

As bad of a problem as illegal immigration is, we certainly can't blame innocent children who are brought here by their parents. I am glad things worked out in this case. She seems like a very smart girl with alot of goals. Still, immigration is a big problem that needs to be dealt with.

ripjones
2
Points
ripjones 02/14/08 - 08:09 am
0
0
Excellent ending to a not so

Excellent ending to a not so happy story. Griselda's story is a little different though. She did not know she was breaking the law until she was fifteen. Unlike the flood of illegal adults, coming across the border each and every day. I'm happy for her. Welcome Home...!!

WHATDIDIDO
0
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WHATDIDIDO 02/14/08 - 08:42 am
0
0
Great news.

Great news.

sTiCkMaN
0
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sTiCkMaN 02/14/08 - 09:39 am
0
0
deport her...

deport her...

Rose
17
Points
Rose 02/14/08 - 10:07 am
0
0
This is good news. We all

This is good news. We all should be proud of her. I have often wondered what happened to her.

jack
10
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jack 02/14/08 - 10:42 am
0
0
Seems this girl has done

Seems this girl has done everythng that we as parents expect of our children with good school grades, and just a nice young lady. Glad she's coming back.

yesyes
0
Points
yesyes 02/14/08 - 10:49 am
0
0
How is illegal immigration a

How is illegal immigration a big problem? The majority of them come to this country to work and make a better life for their families. They are a very productive part of society, as going to Wal-Mart on any given Sunday will show you. They are not asking for handouts nor do they expect one. Instead they get jobs picking up trash from the side of the road or busing tables. Which is more than what I can say for the large majority of people living on welfare in this country.

SunDown
2
Points
SunDown 02/14/08 - 11:21 am
0
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It's not that I don't have

It's not that I don't have sympathy for people that want a better life for their families, but there is a reason we have immigration laws in this country, and they should be adhered to. Your right most of these illegals are extremely hard workers but they do tax the resources of this nation. Most of these folks try to operate under the radar, paying little or no taxes, consuming massive resources and contributing only to their families back in Mexico. Lastly, if we cannot secure our borders then we can not secure our nation.

CoastalDawg
125
Points
CoastalDawg 02/14/08 - 02:28 pm
0
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I don't usually reply to

I don't usually reply to individuals who post but I feel as if I MUST make a reply to yesyes; How is illegal immigration a big problem? First and foremost, illegal aliens (they are NOT immigrants because immigrants are legally in our country) are criminals as soon as they set foot on U S soil; they have broken the immigration law and that makes them criminals and immediate fugitives. As for their not looking for a handout, obviously you have no knowledge of hospital and emergency room situations; one of the largest level 1 trauma units in southeast Georgia is nearing collapse from serving numerous people, many of them illegal Hispanics, who cannot or will not pay. If you check local arrest records you will no doubt find a number of Hispanics involved particularly in traffic violations who have no permit, no insurance and are DUI. There IS a way for people to legally enter this country; legal immigration has a long history and if it weren't for immigration most of us would not be here. I can guarantee that I could not go to Mexico and expect everyone there to know and use English and walk into a medical facility and get free treatment. Any more question?

CoastalDawg
125
Points
CoastalDawg 02/14/08 - 02:31 pm
0
0
One other thing here - go

One other thing here - go stand near your customer service counter @ Kroger or any other place where money can be wired or money orders bought and just see how many people you see there sending money back home to, you guessed it, MEXICO! That is admirable but guess where that money came from? Some say that Americans won't work for wages paid to what used to be migrant workers - if that is true, then those Americans shouldn't participate in freebies either. Truth of the matter is though that some businesses are willing to extend their profit margin by paying illegals under the table at a much reduced wage.

sousmummi
0
Points
sousmummi 02/14/08 - 02:51 pm
0
0
Yay! There are some

Yay! There are some immigrants that deserve the right to be here and some that do not - ie: those that break the law many times over.

SunDown
2
Points
SunDown 02/14/08 - 03:03 pm
0
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CoastalDawg... don't you hate

CoastalDawg... don't you hate restating the obvious. The sad thing about illegal immigration is that some Americans just don't care. They see it as more of a partisan issue instead of an American issue and do not apply common sense. I am a conservative, but it doesn't matter because even if I were a liberal democrat I would agree with you completely.

MyOpinion2
5
Points
MyOpinion2 02/14/08 - 11:23 pm
0
0
The illegal immigration

The illegal immigration crisis we are experiencing now is going to come back an bite us just like the mortgage lending crisis we are going through now. When will our government wake up?

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