by Jack Minor
A Greeley teen who recently discovered he is in the country illegally on an expired visa believes so strongly in following the law he is willing to return to Mexico to obtain a student visa so he can attend college.
Eric is a senior at Northridge who finished his classes in December and will be graduating this May. His parents brought him to America when he was 5 on a visitor’s visa. For the past several years he has been attending Faith Bible Baptist Church. Eric is what is called a “bus kid” a name given to children who come to the church through the bus ministry. The bus ministry goes into the poorer areas of town and offers to provide rides for children and others interested in attending.
During a teen camp last summer, Eric said he felt God was calling him into the ministry to be a youth pastor. In the past few months his youth pastor, Steve Martinez, has been working with Eric to prepare him for Bible College. Eric has said he wishes to attend West Coast Baptist College in California.
In October, Martinez was helping Eric compile the required paperwork for college and told him it was important to know if he was in the country legally or not. Eric said prior to this he had never thought about his status. When he began to look into his paperwork, he discovered his visa had expired and he was in the country illegally.
Martinez told Eric if he was sincere about wanting to serve the Lord in the ministry he needed to follow proper procedures to be in the country legally.
In order to apply for a student visa Eric will need to return to Mexico and apply for a student visa through the U.S. consulate in the country. The problem is, since he has already been in the country on an expired visa, there is a good chance his request to come into the country legally could be denied.
Eric said he is willing to take that chance in order to have a chance to enter America legally. “I love this country and I think it is important to follow the laws. Because of that, I want to be able to be here the right way”, Eric said.
After returning to Mexico, Eric will have to show he has been accepted to West Coast Baptist College and that he is able to be supported. He will not be allowed to work for the first year he is back in the country.
Pastor Matt Walters, senior pastor for Faith Bible Baptist Church, said the church will pay all of Eric’s expenses for his first year until he is able to work. “He is here because of one of our bus ministries and has been faithful. He is one of our members and part of our church family. We have a responsibility to take care of this young man that wants to do right.”