Monday, July 20, 2009
Help Me Howard: Dario
If you live in South Florida you probably know someone who is trying to become a resident to be allowed to stay in this country to live and work. One South Florida young man is facing that struggle today and turned to Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Dario Antignano loved growing up in Italy. Then as a teenager, a double tragedy.
Dario Antignano: "Unfortunately, my mom and dad died in a span of three months. I was 16 years old."
Both parents died of cancer, leaving Dario with no one to raise him. Fortunately, he had an aunt and uncle in South Florida, and they immediately brought him here.
Rossana Falanga: "He's great; we were blessed. We were really, really blessed."
Dario went to La Salle High School. When he began, he spoke very little English.
Dario Antignano: "And all I would do is listen, listen, listen."
By the time he was a senior, he had mastered English, was on the soccer team, the cross country team and had caught the eye of a fellow student.
Candace Campos: "He was Mr. La Salle, and that is what actually caught my attention, was that he was so involved, and even though he went through so much, he still had a positive outlook on life."
He loved reading, especially books on how to turn metal into exotic knives.
Dario Antignano: "This I made for my uncle, he asked for one. This was a piece of steel like this, just a little longer."
Now Dario is a role model, especially for his two younger cousins.
Rossana Falanga: "He's a great influence for our sons."
Eager to help his family and friends...
Candace Campos: "He always puts himself second and puts everyone else first, especially with me."
Today, he is 21, in college and instead of being excited about his future, he's worried.
Dario Antignano: "The concern is that once I'm done with school, I'm going to have to go back, but I don't want to. That's the thing."
Dario is studying fire science wanting to become a firefighter, but once he graduates, his student visa expires, and he will be deported to Italy.
Rossana Falanga: "We've gone down every avenue. There is no provision in the law for this."
The Falangas couldn't adopt Dario when he came to the U.S. because he was 16. For five years they have tried to get him citizenship, no luck.
Rossana Falanga: "Dario hasn't seen much luck in his life, and I think he's due this small miracle, you know."
There are other options, Dario could graduate and stay here illegally, but he was not raised to break the law, even though it makes no sense to him.
Dario Antignano: "After five years, I think I've proven that I want to stay here, and that I would like to have a living here, but I don't know why I'm finding so many closed doors."
One official did offer another suggestion, Dario and Candice could get married. They have dated for three years, they are young, they are not immature.
Candace Campos: "It is not time, it is not time. I mean, marriage is for life, isn't it? I mean, you want to get married when your whole mind, body, soul, everything wants to do it, and right now we are still babies."
A wonderful young man who wants to work, raise a family to make this country better, but he is being told you can't stay in this country. Howard, what can he do?
Howard Finkelstein: "It's extremely difficult to become a permanent resident in the U.S. Perhaps, the only thing more is figuring out and navigating laws I say because there are so many exceptions and different avenues you can travel. The best thing for Dario, stay in school till he finds a way to stay in America."
Our first thought was to get a congressman to propose a special bill that will allow Dario to stay. They have that power, but I was told by one congressional aide there are too many worthy people, and we don't do it because how do we chose one person over another?
There is a lottery that picks 50,000 people each year to get a green card and stay in the US. Dario has put his name for that. There are other options Dario is exploring. He has time, he is still in school, and if he has to leave the U.S., Rosanna says he will not go alone.
Rossana Falanga: "I've told Dario this before, that if, God forbid, it came to the fact that he had to leave, we'd go with him. We are a family. There is no such thing as him leaving."
Patrick Fraser: "When you start dealing with immigration issues, there are so many doors you have to look behind, and when one opens, you have to jump through. There are ways for people to stay in the U.S. legally, you just have to keep looking, and Dario, his family and Candace are not giving up."
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