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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Exile in Mexico trying to get home to Arkansas

Posted by on Tue, Jun 19, 2012 at 3:14 PM

IN MEXICO: JoAnn and Kaiti Tidwell.
  • IN MEXICO: JoAnn and Kaiti Tidwell.

President Obama’s order this week that would stop the deportation of illegal immigrants who came to the United States before the age of 16 and are high school graduates and meet other conditions will not help Kaiti Tidwell of Glenwood, who returned to Mexico in May to get the necessary papers she needs to immigrate legally, she tells the Times.

Tidwell was brought to the U.S. as an infant, floated across the Gulf of Mexico Rio Grande in a tire. She has lived in Glenwood since she was 6 months old. Her natural mother left her in the care of JoAnn and the late Grant Tidwell, who adopted her in 2008.

Until recently, Tidwell had no birth certificate, leaving her undocumented in either Mexico or the U.S. Having failed four times in their petitions for citizenship in the U.S., Tidwell and her adoptive mother left for Mexico shortly after her 18th birthday, which triggers a U.S. Immigration Service requirement that illegal immigrants return to their home country and apply for a visa to re-enter. (She was able to travel to Mexico thanks to a temporary I.D. procured with the help of state Sen. Randy Stewart, D-Kirby, and a temporary passport from the Mexican consulate here.)

Complicating Tidwell’s situation are provisions in the Hague Adoption Convention that make her ineligible for adoption without the approval of the Mexican government. The convention was enacted April 1, seven days before Tidwell’s adoption was legally recorded in court, though the adoption went through prior to the act.

Though she has an Aug. 9 deadline to register with U.S. Immigration Service, Tidwell and her mother have so far been unsuccessful in getting an appointment with the Mexican Central Authority, the office that deals with adoptions under the Hague act, and which must issue a letter exempting Tidwell from the Hague Act provisions for her to be able to return home.

Tidwell said she plans to ask Sen. John Boozman to approach the Obama administration to see if there’s anything that could be done to bring her home. “We don’t really feel discouraged,” she said, “we just feel stuck.” She said she and her mother need to figure out the “right person” to get her an appointment with the Mexican government.

The Tidwells are staying with a family in Cordoba, in Veracruz state, whom they were put in touch with through their 7th Day Adventist church. Kaiti Tidwell said the family, Dr. Jose Luis Granados and his wife, Sandra, have helped her with the Spanish she needs to communicate with the Mexican government.

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