In the 58 years that one man lived, he contributed to life in the United States. He did some of the typical things that any American citizen might do. He found and married the woman that he loved and raised two children that he is proud of today. He was employed by the United States government on both the state and federal level, dutifully paid his federal income taxes and voted for the candidates he felt would run the country well.
Of course, some of his contributions went above and beyond what the average individual might take on. He served as a soldier for three years in the United States Army and then watched one of his sons do the same in Afghanistan. Would it surprise you to learn that he isn't actually a U.S. citizen? It sure surprised him considering everything he did that was supposed to require citizenship.
His discovery isn't without repercussions either. It was first discovered when he tried to get a passport to travel to the Caribbean with his wife. He'd never tried to get one since he came to the U.S. from Cuba in 1965 as a 9-year-old boy. The discovery didn't just stop his trip; it would make things like further voting an illegal act.
"This has really messed with my head," the man told media sources, and he wasn't going to just sit back and retire without addressing the issue of citizenship.
When he sought citizenship, his application was initially denied. He appealed that decision and was told that he'd have a hearing, but informational questions didn't seem so friendly. For instance, despite his lack of knowledge about his status, he was asked why he knowingly registered and proceeded to vote -- two acts that are illegal without citizenship.
Although this man's status as a military veteran and refugee would protect him personally from deportation, it may not be the case for others who find themselves in a similar situation.
His case also acts as an example of the disorganization, confusion or delay that is possible when dealing with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. More importantly, it acts as a warning for those filing any application to seek the assistance of an immigration and naturalization attorney.
Source: The New York Times, "After Forming Deep Roots in U.S., Man Discovers He Isn't a Citizen," Lizette Alvarez, May 12, 2014