Immigration struggle over for Minturn dad |

Immigration struggle over for Minturn dad

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO COlorado
Kristin Anderson/Vail DailyCarlos Armenta pushes his son Carlitos Armenta Goodwin at Freedom Park in Edwards earlier this year. Armenta was almost forced to stay in Mexico for 10 years, but has been given a visa to return to the U.S.

JUAREZ, Mex. ” The wait was nerve-wracking for Carlos Armenta.

The former Minturn resident had been sitting in the waiting room of the American Consulate in Juarez, Mex. since early in the morning. He as waiting to see if he would be granted a U.S. immigrant visa that would allow him to return with his family to the valley, where he has lived as an illegal immigrant for about five years.

In order to stay in the U.S. legally, Armenta had to get a waiver from immigration officials that pardoned his illegal status. Otherwise, Armenta would be banned from re-entering the United States for 10 years.

Armenta’s wife, Cindy Goodwin, and their two young sons, Carlitos and Denzel, are born-and-raised American citizens. If her husband did not get the waiver for a visa, the family would either be split or they would all have to move to Mexico, Goodwin said.

“I was so worried,” said Armenta, 26. “All I could think about is what I would do if I didn’t get it. What work will I do? How will I support my family?”

Finally, after almost eight hours of waiting, officials gave him his waiver, and Armenta was able to walk out of the building to get his visa.

Goodwin, who was waiting with her children and Armenta’s family in Veracruz, Mex., said she was relieved and happy.

“My mother-in-law and I were both crying out of joy,” said Goodwin, 31. “It was such a stressful process, and we were so happy that everything finally worked out.”

The couple has been trying to figure out a way for Armenta to stay in the United States for three years. In Mexico, Goodwin said, she has been worried about the health and safety of her sons, ages 3 and 1, and making enough to survive.

After more than a month of trying to schedule an appointment at the consulate, Armenta presented a stack of papers to immigration officials to show them the difficulties his family would face if he was unable to return to the United States.

The package included letters from doctors, friends and family, copies of bills and pay stubs and recommendations from community members, Goodwin said.

Then all he could do was wait for the verdict. Goodwin said she was not sure what qualified them for the waiver, which is difficult to get, but she is glad it is over.

Now the family can do things that were previously impossible ” Armenta can get a social security number, a driver’s license and a better job. Goodwin said her dream is to one day own a home.

Although the family’s immigration troubles are over, they still face challenges when they return home.

“We have really cut into our savings. This has been a very expensive process on every level ” the lawyers, government fees, travel and living expenses,” Goodwin said.

The family will need to find a place to live when they return to the Vail area later this month, which will be difficult and costly at this time of year, she said.

Now that Armenta has his visa ” a piece of paper that goes in his passport ” he can eventually apply for a green card and then citizenship.

“So much money, time and stress, all for a little piece of paper,” Goodwin said. “But that piece of paper makes all the difference.”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or

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