Sitting in a big circle, Maria Martinez, her husband Victor and their six children could not be happier to be in the same room together. “Just like a miracle to us,” said Victor. Maria came to the U.S. from Juarez, Mexico 15 years ago. But about two years ago, she traveled back to Mexico alone to fix an issue with her immigration status.

By Erin Murray

But once she arrived, issues with her paperwork prevented her from coming back.

“They said i have to apply for a waiver. I already have one and they say it wasn’t valid no more, so i have to apply for a new one and stay there,” said Maria.

A day in Mexico turned into a week, which turned into several months. All the while, her husband and four kids were back in Pinellas County.

To make matters more difficult, shortly after arriving to Mexico, she got another surprise.

“I got pregnant,” said Maria. Pregnant with twins.

Victor fought to get her back, but nothing was working.

“For my wife, I did everything I could to bring her back. I got the attention of my boss and other people,” said Victor. “You do it when you are in love, we are in love.”

It wasn’t until almost two years later, when Rep. Charlie Crist’s office stepped in, that things began to happen for the better.

“My grandfather immigrated from Greece, my grandmother immigrated from Lebanon, Danny’s mother is from Brazil, so we all had a connection being related to immigrants directly,” said Crist.

With Crist’s office’s connections, they were able to expedite her Visa paperwork and get passports for the newborns. She arrived back in Florida in November.

“I feel special right now,” said Maria.

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