Woman whose immigration journey was chronicled in The Star gets green card
A Ventura County woman whose immigration struggles have been chronicled by The Star since February 2013 has received her green card approval.
Blanca Terre, now 25 and an Oxnard resident, got OK'd Dec. 23 for the documentation that allows her to live in the United States permanently. She had previously spent thousands of dollars and, since 2012, pursued multiple avenues in her quest.
"It's very rewarding to have someone complete their immigration journey and get legal status," said Terre's immigration lawyer, Mackenzie Mackins, "because I know it will change their life."
Terre, whose husband Marc is a U.S. citizen, has lived in California since she illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border at age 11. Her mother had died that year from cancer, Terre previously told The Star. She was living in a rough environment with five siblings at the time, her father having left years earlier.
When The Star first interviewed Terre — early stories used only her middle name — she was one of an estimated 71,000 undocumented Ventura County residents. She had graduated from high school, was a taxpaying dental assistant and had married a U.S. citizen but lived in constant fear.
Over the course of four stories, the last in June 2014, there were ups and downs. Terre was OK'd to work, drive and receive temporary protection from deportation through the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, for example. But she hit roadblock when a so-called "unlawful presence" waiver was denied.
Terre originally met Mackins, of Mackins & Mackins LLP in Sherman Oaks, through the Conejo Free Clinic in Thousand Oaks, which offers some free immigration counseling. She eventually became a client, Mackins said.
The approach that ultimately proved successful involved "advance parole." Terre was given permission to travel to Mexico to see her sick grandmother, Mackins said. Her return to Los Angeles International Airport then marked a legal entry to the United States.
"With that legal entry and with a U.S. citizen for a husband, she was able to finally get a green card," Mackins said.
Other factors, such as Terre's high school diploma and having never gotten in trouble with the law, played a part. The advance parole approach involves risk because entry back to the U.S. isn't guaranteed, Mackins said.
After three years with the green card, Terre can file to become a U.S. citizen after passing an exam, she said. In the meantime, she plans to take classes at Oxnard College and eventually become a dental hygienist.
Terre said she feels happy and relieved and is grateful she found Mackins.
"She gets everything done, and everything is so clear with her," Terre said. "She will tell you exactly what is going on.”