A Mexican citizen who illegally entered the U.S. as a teenager wanted to get legal.
So he took a big gamble by essentially deporting himself in order to seek official U.S. permission to re-enter the U.S. with a visa.
And, fortunately for Oscar Vazquez, 24, it worked. He was able to get a visa after 361 days. The Arizona Republic has the unusual story.
In it, Vazquez acknowledges that his story was extraordinary. For one, as a high school student in suburban Phoenix, he was on a prize-winning robotics team that beat students from MIT and other highly rated schools to win a national competition and attention. NPR's Susan Stamberg reported on the team in 2005.
Vazquez, a graduate of Arizona State University, also got help from Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) in his effort to legally return to the U.S. That expedited his case.
What made Vazquez's move so risky was that if he had been turned down for a waiver, he would have unable to apply to legally re-enter the U.S. for ten years. Vazquez isn't only married to a U.S. citizen but has a baby daughter who's a citizen, too, complicating an already difficult decision.
An excerpt from the Republic:
... Vazquez knew his legal status would prevent him from using his degree. So, he decided to turn himself in at the consulate in Juarez, Mexico, admit his illegal presence, and apply for permission to re-enter.
The government initially denied Vazquez's request and asked for additional paperwork, documenting the hardship to his wife and daughter, both U.S. citizens.
Officials told him to expect a final answer in March. Meanwhile, Vazquez was living in Magdalena del Kino, a dusty town in Sonora, Mexico, working a night shift at an automobile parts factory.