For the very first time, Cesar Lopez got a an opportunity to meet his baby daughter months after little Mia was born in Saint Augustine.
"Before she was born, there was hope in my mind and in my heart that I was going in be able to go back home," said Lopez, "To meet her the way that I wanted to, the way that so many people get to."
But Cesar wasn’t permitted inside Flagler hospital to witness his first child’s birth. He’s not allowed anywhere inside the US, the country he’s called home for 20 years. The nation where he went to school, where he met and married his American born wife in Saint Johns County.
His wife Kathleen told Action News, "Words cannot describe that feeling and I wouldn't want anyone to feel it."
Kathleen Lopez recently left the St. Augustine Christian mission where she and Cesar both worked. She flew across the border with the couple’s infant, the only way this child could legally meet her dad.
Kathleen said, "It just made me fall on love with him so much more when I watched him hold her and love in her. You can tell she's everything to him."
"It was just a tremendous joy," said Cesar, "I really can't explain the feeling to you."
Cesar Lopez is the St. Augustine Christian missionary whose immigration battle Action News chronicled since October.
He voluntary applied for a visa he hoped would allow him to live with his family as a legal citizen. The young father is forbidden from coming back home to the US for a decade, punishment for living illegally in states for nearly two decades after his mother snuck him across the border when Cesar was a child.
So now he’s banned from even visiting his American daughter and American wife in Saint Augustine.
Congresswoman Corrine Brown of Florida said, “His case seems to be a little unusual. That's why we need a comprehensive immigration bill to advance some of these cases."
Congresswoman Brown now says she could write a bill just for Lopez, granting him amnesty and permitting him to live with his family in Saint Augustine.
Brown said, "It's a stand-alone bill and basically it gets people's attention that this is an important case."
Senator Bill Nelson says he too is continuing efforts for Cesar that began months ago.
Nelson recently sent a letter to the Secretary of State office requesting an examination of the Lopez case “to determine if, given the circumstances, there is more we can do to reunite this family.”