On October 12, 1909, in the days before border guards, Eulalia Garcia Maturey was a new born baby in her mother’s arms crossing the Rio Grande on a ferry boat from Matamoros, Mexico, into Brownsville, Texas. Now, 101 years later, Maturey is finally being awarded U.S. citizenship.
She settled in Brownsville with her mother and grew up there. For decades Maturey wasn’t sure of her legal status in the U.S. and feared that asking questions would get her deported. However, when Congress passed the World War II Alien registration Act, which required non-citizens to register with the government, she was given a ‘Certificate of Lawful Entry.” She had no idea how important this document would become 70 years later. (See how the “border pirates” issue has infiltrated Texas politics.)
When it became compulsory to show a passport on the Mexican border in 2008, Maturey, who would cross regularly to see family, decided something had to be done. Her niece took her to the local U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Office in Brownsville and she was able to pull out the 69-year-old certificate, perfectly preserved. “We would never have been able to establish her registration status without that document,” said Maria Elena Garcia-Upson, a public affairs officer with the Immigration services. Maturey passed her citizenship exam and her naturalization ceremony will take place today in a federal courtroom in Brownsville. (See pictures of immigration detention in Arizona.)
“I want to spend the rest of my days in this life living legally in the United States,” Maturey told CNN. “I was raised here, and I want to die here.”