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Man discovers he is not a U.S. citizen after 49 years voting, working for government

By Dustin M Braden- 14 May '14 09:59AM
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  • ICE arrest
  • (Photo : Wikimedia commons) A South Carolina sheriff who made a name for himself as tough on crime, especially illegal immigration, has been indicted on charges that he accepted bribes to release people detained for being undocumented. Pictured: An immigration official makes an arrest.

A new report highlighting the experiences of one man shines light on the failures of various bureaucracies to maintain accurate records and inform other agencies about previous failures in record keeping.

The record keeping in question relates to immigration in the United States at a time it is a hot button electoral issue that is continuously mentioned on the street, in the news, and in the halls of power in Washington D.C.

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According to a report in The New York Times, a Tallahassee, Florida resident by the name of Mario Hernandez recently found out he was not a citizen of the United States. This discovery comes after Hernandez served three years in the U.S. Army in the 1970s, voted in every election since Jimmy Carter was president, and worked for government agencies in the states of Florida and Washington. Hernandez even worked for the Department of Justice in a position that required citizenship despite being subject to background checks every five years.

Hernandez arrived in the United States as a child refugee from Cuba, according to the Times. As a Cuban refugee, Hernandez has political amnesty and the U.S. government cannot deport him. He has two children, one of whom served in Afghanistan.

Hernandez finally realized he was not a citizen as he and his wife planned a cruise to celebrate his retirement from the Bureau of Prisons, a federal agency, after 22 years with the agency. He only questioned his citizenship after he realized he would need passport after reading the cruise company's website. It turns out he was not even a resident of the United States, let alone a citizen.

The Times reports that he cannot be deported by dint of his status as a Cuban refugee and the fact that he served in the U.S. Army, but he cannot leave the country or he will not be allowed back in, and he can no longer vote. He could also face retroactive punishment for having participated in elections when he was not authorized to do so. 

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