Senor and Linda Lou have been in Pueblo Alamos, Sonora, Mexico for 10 years.
Every day brings a new discovery.
They are still working on the casa............Senor says, it won't be long.........but Linda Lou says, it won't be long until what..............stay tuned to find out what's next.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

A Baby Without a Country

We are having beautiful weather in Alamos. 
Days start fresh and cool and warm up into the eighties and then, nights cool down again. 
Just perfect.
And perfect sunsets, too. 
Above, the first photo to the west and then north, over Mount Alamos.

I am going to tell you a story. 
You will not believe it.
However, I am not inclined to lie or make up things just to have something to blog about.
So, just read the story.........

I turned sixty-two last year and decided to take my social security early.
Senor and I were going to Tucson in June and while my birthday would not be until October, I decided to go to Tucson Social Security to get things started.

In Tucson I got all of the paperwork necessary and talked with an agent who told me what I needed to do and when I needed to do it.

I was able to get everything done, most of it online, pretty quick and easy.
Obviously I was eager and excited about finally receiving all this money.

In early October I received a phone call from the US Department of State. this linda adams....................yes, this is linda adams................we need to talk to you about the status of your united states citizenship....................uhm, sure, okay, what do you need to know................

Right away I started thinking this is a hoax but I went along because I was interested in knowing how it would play out.

She proceeded to question me about a number of things..............our records indicate that you were born in nuremberg, germany............
Okay, anyone could probably get that information.

Even when she told me the last four digits of my social security number, I still didn't believe she was for real. 
I kept thinking she is going to scam me any minute.

But she was for real and she was questioning my citizenship.
................our records also indicate that you do not have a birth certificate............well, I have papers for a child born abroad of american parents and a german birth certificate................yes, but you do not have a united states birth certificate and therefore you do not qualify to receive your social security benefits................

.........but i have a passport........i have a social security number.......i have paid into social security for years.............that is my money........... which hospital were you born in did you get the passport................i don't know!............i was a baby...........

Well, I proceeded to understand this was no scam and it really was the US State Department calling to tell me I might not be a US citizen.  
She asked me a lot of other questions which eventually all became a blur, but she did have questions that she would expect me to answer in her next phone call to me in a week.

The last thing I wanted to do was involve my parents in this matter.
But I hoped for the best and called my mother., the State Department called and and they just have some questions about my birth certificate and passport.........could we talk about that for a couple of minutes.......

She proceeded to joyfully recall the day she and my father took the train to Munich to get my passport..............oh, it was such a beautiful clear, cold morning when we walked to the train............there was new snow and i can still see your father's footprints as we walked and he was so handsome in his uniform, and you had on the pretty blue outfit that our housekeeper, marie, knitted for you.............on the train, it was so cold.........

Now of course I like hearing these kinds of stories on a normal day, but this was anything but a normal day and I was screaming in my! help me here, they are saying I may not be a US citizen!

.............well dear, that german paper you think is a german birth certificate is just a souvenir........all the military wives were given one, but why don't you have a birth certificate............

i DON'T KNOW! had me, don't you know why i don't have a birth certificate.............

............well the military told us they would take care of that.....but we never received anything other than your papers showing you were a child born abroad of american parents........

Okay, I could go on and on. 
When the state department called the following week, I told her what I knew and she gave me a list of new questions to answer. I had to call the hospital in Germany and try and find out more information, which I did do and found out there are no records from that time.

What I discovered was that passports were just automatically issued to babies of post war parents and the military was supposed to send my parents a US birth certificate, but either didn't or it was lost, or, who knows.

And one little additional problem: when I was eighteen it was necessary for me to go to court and declare my citizenship, which I did not do because I did not know it was a requirement and my parents, by then, with three other children after me, had forgotten it was a requirement.

Of course, my baby passport expired at some point but I was able to get a new passport in the seventies, which I also eventually let expire.

In 2007, I went to get a new passport.
 I recall the agent hesitated to give it to me based on the papers I had, but I think I got very lucky that day and I did receive a new passport.

The next time the State Department called me I was simply told that I could not get my social security because I have no proof that I am a US citizen, however, I can file onto my husband's social security and I can get half of what he receives monthly and he will continue to receive his full amount.

I reminded her I have a passport and a social security why can't you just issue me a birth certificate............i'm sorry we can not do that, you were not born in the usa............

 I immediately called Social Security and made a big complaint, but they didn't have too much to say about it. Evidently based on the paperwork I gave them in their office, they then let the State Department  know I was 'undocumented'.
 I ranted away to anyone would listen, but what were they going to do about it?

So here is the outcome.
I have no birth certificate and I cannot get one.
I could go to Germany and try and get a birth certificate, but it is possible they would consider me a German citizen because I have made no legal declaration to either country.
Each month I receive half of Senor's full benefits.
I am basically a baby without a country.

Now how crazy is that? 

And maybe I have been put on some kind of list. 
The last few times I have crossed the border, alone, going into the United States, I have been interrogated, frisked and detained (for only a short time) by US customs border agents and asked endless questions about my birthplace. 
One female custom agent took me from a long line of Mexicans waiting to have their documents checked and put me in a back room and asked me several times why I don't speak German.

I need to renew my passport next year.
 I am just a little nervous.

I told you you will not believe this story.
But it's true.

Que le vaya bien!
Linda Lou


norm said...

There are a few times in our life that we need a lawyer, this is one of them in your case. Start with affidavits from your parents, then pester the Army about who paid the hospital bill, travel expenses from Germany If you do the leg work the legal bill will be less, You are not the first one to have this happen to. Have your Mom write a letter to her Congressman, see what he/she can do to get your paperwork in order.

Judy said...

You need a Good Lawyer! And what Norm said, cause you will need every piece of paper you can get for the State Department. You also need to find out what Mexico is going to do if you can't get this straightened out in the next year, cause a year may not be enough time to get this straightened out.

robyn said...

linda, I am so sorry you are having to deal with such a stressful situation, yes it is hard to believe. The same thing could have happened to me, having an Irish mom, but luckily I was born in Texas. Being in Mexico makes it all the more difficult, I hope what you receive $$$ is close to what you would have and I am sure this can be resolved...hugs!

mcm said...

I would definitely contact congressman and senator(s) for whatever state you last lived in (Arizona?) -- many congressional staff do a terrific job of helping constituents with these types of issues (believe it or not, that really is one of their major jobs!). I would call, not write. And, FYI, if (when!) it gets straightened out, you WILL get your benefits retroactively -- at least that was the case for me when I had problems with social security. And lucky your Mom is still here, hopefully that will help...

marti and bernie said...

Seems ridiculous. Surely you are not the only military baby to be born overseas! but similar things were happening in Canada (under the last regime) as a cost cutting campaign they were questioning the citizenship of people applying for benefits.

Ralph and Chris said...

Wow!! WOW!! Take all of the advice above, contacting (by that I mean calling) your old reps/senators, have your parents call theirs as well. Pull any military strings your parents may still have, contact his branch specifically. Even try the VA. Get affidavits from your parents as soon as possible. Pull out all the stops or you'll be a girl without a country next year, not just without social security. And they will pay retroactively when this all gets resolved and it will. But you gotta bug the daylights out of everyone concerned until it does.

Linda Mcphee said...

This is truly one of the most amazing stories I have ever read and it also made me miss you quite a bit. Senor must have some sort of resource in mind. Updates will be fascinating.

Linda Lou and Senor, Too said...

Thanks everyone for all of your comments. They are making me think about a lot of things. LL

Theresa in Mèrida said...

I read awhile back the story of a lady who thought she was British but when she went to collect her pension, it turned out that she was born in the USA! Her mom was a war bride, went to the US, gave birth, and for some reason returned to the UK, but never told her daughter where she was born. At least you know where you were born.

Not to add to your worries, but you also need to talk to Social Security about what happens when you solve this. People used to be able to use a strategy called file and suspend, where the lower earning spouse could file for SS then suspend their claim, but then claim on their spouse's record until they reached 70. At 70, they would then drop their spouse's and get 110 % of their own. This year SS closed that "loophole". It would stink if you couldn't get your own if it is bigger than the señor's.

It's just awful that this is happening to you. I wish you luck, maybe you should write to the president too. I'd contact everyone I could, and get a good lawyer.

Steve Cotton said...

And I though Ted Cruz had birth issues. As suggested above, you should hire an attorney to comb through this tangle. (Of course, I would say that.) Is there a consulate near you? The staff at the Guadalajara consulate are extremely helpful on these things.

Ed said...

Linda Lou,

You were right when you thought it was a scam. Social Security is a ponzi scheme that is winding down and those in charge are doing everything they can to pay out as little as possible.

Good luck, you are fighting bureaucrats, need I say more!

Jacqui L said...

OMG. I hope you manage to get this sorted.

Anonymous said...

Don't start with hiring expensive lawyers. If you are still considered a "resident" of Arizona (or anywhere else in the U.S.) contact your congressman/woman and your senators. They have staff members hired to handle just these types of inane/insane situations. And good luck!
Deborah S.