Girl with no country a step closer to USA | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Girl with no country a step closer to USA

Posted By on Wed, Sep 12, 2012 at 10:32 AM

JoAnn and Kaiti Tidwell
  • JoAnn and Kaiti Tidwell
Kaiti Tidwell, the child floated across the Rio Grande as an infant and raised in Glenwood, has made some progress toward being able to legally return to her adoptive family in the U.S.

Tidwell, who was adopted at age 14 by JoAnn Tidwell of Glenwood, was required to travel to Mexico when she turned 18 in May. Her adoptive mother accompanied her so that together they could work out the thorniest of problems: Kaiti was brought to the U.S. so young she had no birth certificate in Mexico. That means she was documented neither in in Mexico nor the U.S.; she was a person without a country. The Tidwells have struggled for 15 years to get residency status for her; we've written about their travails, first at home in Glenwood, where she graduated from high school, and later in Mexico.

Today, JoAnn Tidwell, who had to return home alone to the states to care for her son, who was injured in a car accident, called to say that Kaiti's I-130 form (petition for alien relative) has been approved. Kaiti must now travel to one of the most dangerous cities in the world — Juarez — to the Mexican Embassy there to get a travel visa. A green card will be mailed to her, JoAnn Tidwell said. Kaiti will not be alone when she travels to Juarez but with her boyfriend, a U.S. citizen originally from California who has been a great help to the Tidwells, JoAnn said.

Tidwell credited Kaiti's progress to the dedication of a U.S. embassy employee to get Kaiti back to the only country she's ever known to live with her legal family and to the doggedness of a lawyer in Cordoba. Kaiti will apply for residency, a process that takes five years.

JoAnn Tidwell and friends are in the process of putting up fliers in Glenwood saying "Help bring Kaiti home," a request for financial help with travel and lawyers.

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