Sounds like an unlikely evolution, right? But that's exactly the path that Ben Reed followed. Reed is a longtime Idaho radio DJ and a former Mormon missionary. He was also a committed Republican, until love changed everything.
Idaho became home to more and more Latinos and before long, Reed found himself falling in love with the culture, the language and eventually a woman from Mexico. He proposed to Deyanira Escalona and made plans for a wedding in a Mormon church in Rexburg, Idaho. "I was doing everything according to the letter of the law," Reed told the LA Times. "I was told that since she had lived in the U.S. legally, and since she had a tourist visa, we wouldn't have any problems fixing up her papers."
But the wedding never happened. Although Escalona thought she had all her papers in order, when she attempted to pass through immigration in Los Angeles to catch her connecting flight to Idaho, she was detained and held in custody. Reed soon found himself caught—like so many who try to follow the law—in the nonsensical bureaucracy that is the immigration system in the United States. Escalona was told entering the United States without a "fiancé visa" constituted fraud. She was deported and her tourist visa revoked. Ben tried for a year to work through the immigration system in an effort to sort her papers out. Then he gave up and moved to Mexico, where the happy couple now live.
"He gave up everything to be with me," says Escalona, 34.
"Now, I'm an immigrant too," says Reed. "Frankly, it's an experience more gabachos should have."