California woman gets green card after 16-year wait, cries tears of joy

Think about the most emotional you have ever been because of something wonderful. For example, that feeling when you find out you're pregnant.

That level of emotion has draped over Andrea Gastelum since getting word on Monday that she got what she's been waiting 16 years to get. Her tears, and there have been many, are the happy variety.


While having lunch Monday with longtime boyfriend James Garry, the Huntington Park, Calif., woman finally got word electronically that she had been approved for a green card, and the card for permanent residency is being made for her.

Some 24 hours later, it was all still sinking in as FOX 11 spoke to her over Skype. She was still very emotional and, as she put it, "I’m very, very happy."


"It’s an amazing feeling to know that I’m not going anywhere and the kids don’t have to worry about that,” Gastelum said.

"It was very hard on me. It was a very big sigh of relief. Primarily, it was a sigh of relief because ever since our president was elected, my children have been fearful that mom might get deported because I’m not from here. And I’ve seen my 11-year-old and 13-year-old walk around with that worry, so it was quite a relief to see I’d been approved at long last.”

Her mom petitioned her as a child when she first came to the United States from Mexico, but when she turned 21 her status changed and the delay got longer because, as she says, "I was no longer a priority because I was no longer a minor."

Her boyfriend understands the emotion she’s feeling.

“She’s been having a hard time sleeping the last few weeks waiting on this," Garry said. "I just grabbed the phone to record it because there are a lot of people out there who can’t understand how emotional it can get, how slow the process can be or how emotionally overwhelming when they do get approved how much it does mean.”

For Andrea, 16 years was "an agonizing wait, but it’s worth waiting when you finally get that yes.”

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