Sunday, October 6, 2013


DHS officers and the Administrative Appeals Office (“AAO”) within DHS have relied on provisions of the Mexican Constitution that either never existed or do not say what DHS claims they say.
Those aren't my words.  They aren't a paraphrase.  And I haven't ripped them out of context.

They're from an opinion filed last month by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in the case of Sigifredo Saldana Iracheta who was appealing from his proposed, and as it happens illegal, deportation.   (It would actually be his fourth deportation, and there's the small matter of the time he's spent in custody over this shit).  Illegal because, well, he's an American citizen.

And the DHS referred to there is, indeed, the Department of Homeland Security.  (Motto: Keeping Americans Out of America Since 2002.)  Of course, DHS didn't do it all by itself.  Our government's been lying to the courts about this since at least 1978 when the Immigration and Naturalization Service first invented Article 314 of the Mexican Constitution as a convenient way to deny citizenship to and thus deport American citizens.

Saldana was born in Mexico, one of eight children of Sigifredo Saldana, a U.S. citizen, and Amelia Iracheta, a Mexican citizen.  The two never married.  Some of the children have been recognized as U.S. citizens, others have not.  That's a complication of our law that says that, as a child who's American father wasn't married to his non-citizen mother, his claim to citizenship would be measured under the law as it was when he was born.  To acquire U.S. citizenship under the applicable statutes in effect at the time of his birth in 1964, Saldana had to have been "legitimated" before he turned 21 under the law of the Mexican state of Tamaulipas.*

DHS said, argued for years, that Saldana can't make that showing because Article 314 of the Mexican Constitution says that the only way a person can be legitimated is if the parents marry, which Sigifredo and Amelia never did.  That's what the government said in Matter of Reyes** back in 1978 and what the court (that was an immigration court, but a court, and one that other courts have been relying on ever since) accepted because, well, because
Why the fuck would the government lie?
Which question should have led immediately to the answer,
Because it can.  And because you folks are stupid enough to let the government get away with it.
And so, for what is not 35 years, the government has been relying on Article 314 of the Mexican Constitution to prove that U.S. citizens aren't U.S. citizens and to deport them.

Except, once again (and it can't be repeated often enough), the Mexican Constitution does not include an Article 314.  INS made it up.  And the courts took their word for it.  

But wait, you say.  That quote at the top of this also said that DHS also relied on
provisions of the Mexican Constitution that . . . do not say what DHS claims they say.
What about that?

Oh, that's Article 130, which actually does exist.  The 5th Circuit explains.
The AAO also cited Article 130 of the Constitution of Mexico for the same proposition that the Constitution requires that parents be married in order for children to be legitimated. However, Article 130 provides only that marriage is a civil contract, as opposed to a religious one, and says nothing about legitimation or children.
Got it.  Lie upon lie.  Misrepresentation upon misrepresentation.

Of course, it's not just Saldana.  They've been fucking people over with this for decades.  And nobody knows how many.  What we do know is that it's poor people, brown people, people with families, people who contribute to the economy.  People who would vote if we'd let them. People like Saldana, who, according to Christopher Sherman writing for the AP a couple of weeks ago, has been trying to get to stay with his wife and three kids in South Texas.
Days after the ruling, Saldana still seethed with frustration for all the rejections, for every time his family had to scrape together money to hire another lawyer. He rued time missed with his children, the low wages he endured as a worker without papers and the responsibilities that fell on his wife, Laura.
We need to fix the immigration laws, but we don't need to fix them for people like Saldana.  For them, we need to fix the government. 

"Trust," Ronald Reagan said, "but verify."  He was talking about how the U.S. should pursue arms control treaties with the Soviet Union.  Because them godless commies couldn't really be trusted.

Neither, in case you haven't been paying attention, can we.

*He also had to show that his father had lived in the US for at least 10 years, at least five of which had to be after he turned 14.  After years of insisting that Sigifredo did not meet that requirement, the government finally conceded that he did.  So the only thing that was left for Saldana to show was the legitimation.
**Not, so far as I can tell, available for free on line.  (The link to Reyes I found actually links to a different case.)  .

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