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In Juarez, Mexico, a Latina is threatened with loss of U.S. citizenship

Aida Marroquin, 56 years old, was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, and like many of this generation, she was born at home with an attending midwife.

She's a professional woman, recently married to a mexicano, Jose Luis Padilla, living here in San Antonio, Texas. Aida tried to do the right thing last Friday, January 5th, by visiting the U.S. Consulate in Juarez, across the border from El Paso, seeking legal residency for Jose Luis under the new immigration laws.

Instead, she was forced to leave her husband behind in Juarez, as her own American citizenship was threatened.

What happened to her can happen to all of us. We know the horror stories about families being separated without regard to unification, employment, good standing, doesn't matter - under the post 9/11 immigration laws that use the fear of terrorists to keep Mexicans out of the country.

Aida just didn't believe that the War on Terror could apply to her.

How? After the U.S. Consulate questioned her Mexican-born husband, she was given a form requesting documents that in effect, asked her to prove her citizenship - by the next business day.

They asked her to prove she was born in the U.S. Of course Aida had her birth certificate, but the Consulate wanted the original birth certificate, because a birth at home, they said, could be falsified. They gave her a form with a multitude of boxes that she had to fill out. They wanted to talk to Aida's mother, who is in her eighties and in a wheelchair, they wanted to see her parents' marriage license, all her siblings' birth certificates, baptismal records, school records, proof of everything she accomplished in high school, and they wanted it immediately - by Monday, the next business day.


It didn't matter that Aida has a family history, like many of us, dating back generations before the Texas Revolution, that she comes from people who were born on ranchos, at home, by midwives, as was common practice then.

Lic. Otilia Vargas, Aida's Mexican attorney,
told the couple after hearing their story, "they don't want you - they want your wife." She said that others had been stripped of their citizenship, and referred them to a law firm in El Paso, directing Aida to return to the U.S, because "they wanted to take her rights away."

Aida was told by the Consulate's office that if a person has an American birth certificate - indicating they were born at home or in a [non-existent] clinic - that birth certificate could be fraudulent.

And that is identity theft.

As Aida was questioned, and given a checklist of all the paperwork she was to submit the next day, there were easily two hundred other people in the room, many of them facing the same form.

"You're not going to question the descendants of Washington & Jefferson," says Lisa de la Portilla, Ph.D, her younger sister, who has roots in Texas that go back hundreds of years, who described her sister's experience as a living nightmare, Orwellian, calling all of us to understand what's at stake under today's current and ruthless immigration policies.

Aida's lawyer, Elaine Rosenbloom, is going to file a brief in federal court challenging the U.S. Consulate's demand for Aida's documents.



photocredit: www.firecoalition.com (an anti-immigrant website)




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