DENVER (KDVR) — The Zaldivar family’s long struggle against U.S. immigration laws, technicalities and even wrongful deportation came to an end on Friday.

Jorge Zaldivar, the family patriarch, recently became a permanent resident of the United States. This came after nearly two decades and multiple separations for their family.

“It was like Uncle Sam was pissed off at me for marrying an immigrant,” Christina Zaldivar, Jorge’s wife, said.

Christina is an American citizen. She married Jorge, who was undocumented when he came to the U.S.

“I saw him fit enough to be a citizen and a contributor to this country, which he is and he has been,” Christina said.

Immigration journey filled with obstacles

“I’m hopeful that people have understood that immigrants come here to work and to be part of their family, and that we are here because we’re contributing,” Jorge said through an interpreter.

Their joyous day didn’t come without adversity. Years of going through the immigration system came to a head in January 2020, when Jorge was deported for not being able to prove how long he’d been in the country. It happened just before COVID-19 took hold in North America.

This technicality, the family and their attorney said, was a needless obstacle. Jorge was stuck in Mexico following his deportation.

“He couldn’t work, he couldn’t move, he wasn’t being seen medically,” Christina said. “I was supporting the family here and there.”

Christina took a trip to Mexico to be with her husband during the pandemic.

“Me and the three youngest got stuck in Mexico, which was very rough on the two eldest that were left here,” Christina said.

The problems of a pandemic compounded their efforts to reunite the family.

“We were finally able to afford our plane home in July,” Christina said. “That was very rough.”

COVID-19 adds to the family’s struggles

Jorge’s father died while he was in Mexico, and Christina flew there to be with her husband.

“Myself and my two youngest children,” Christina said, “who I had left here in the United States, had tested positive for COVID.”

A global pandemic couldn’t stop their family, led by Christina, from reuniting back home in Colorado.

“I had two uncles perish in World War II. They fought for my rights,” Christina said. “They fought for my freedom, which is why I thought I had a voice.”

The Zaldivar family is taking some time to enjoy this win. Their future plans include making Jorge an American citizen and continuing to advocate for immigration reform in the U.S.