Immigration court in KC begins a life-changing task
By MARK MORRIS
The Kansas City Star
Breaking News

Mario Zamora-Vargas certainly has lived his American dream.

He has steady work with a national food company and owns two trucks and a modest home in Kansas City, Kan., all free and clear. He attends church regularly and sends money to his parents in Mexico every couple of months.

But 16 years ago, looking for work that paid better than harvesting avocados, he gave $140 to a cousin’s friend to smuggle him into the U.S. illegally. That now is an issue for a federal immigration court that for the first time is hearing cases full time in Kansas City.

Standing before the judge earlier this month, Zamora-Vargas, 33, and his lawyer argued that he should be allowed to remain in the U.S., even though he seldom paid income taxes and, after living here for a few years, purchased false identification to find work.

“I did that because I didn’t have a job,