The occasion for the momentous digital grin was a small change in a convoluted immigration regulation. On paper, that change may seem like an insignificant reform, but for American families of certain illegal immigrants such as Esparza, it represents a new opportunity to obtain a green card without tearing loved ones apart.
Under the old rules, Esparza, who entered the United States illegally when he was 15 years old, would have had to return to his home country of Mexico to apply for a waiver from being barred re-entry to the United States. The waiver would be based on the hardship his absence would create for his wife in Denver.
That process could drag on for months or years and it came with a great risk. If Esparza, now 27, was turned down for the waiver, he would be barred from returning to the United States for three to 10 years because he had entered the country illegally.
The changed regulation, announced last week by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, makes it possible to apply for the waiver without leaving the country. Immigrants still have to return to a home country to complete the process and pick up a visa, but they can go with the waiver in hand and the prospect that they will be away for weeks, not months or years.
Read more of Nancy Lofholm's story in the Denver Post.
(Copyright 2013 The Denver Post)