A bride and her new husband exchanged vows during their wedding ceremony on top of the international bridge witnessed by a U.S. Congressman and Customs and Border Protection agents. Maricruz Valtierra Zuniga from Mexico and her longtime boyfriend Edgar Falcon, a U.S. citizen, came as close to the U.S. as they can be together because a previous immigration mistake has barred Valtierra from ever reentering the country.
As a teenager, Valtierra made a mistake by falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen. Because of the law, this bars her from ever entering the country – even if she marries a U.S. citizen. “Yes, I can still go to Juarez to see her,” Falcon said, acknowledging that other couples are separated by hundreds or thousands of miles. “But the whole dynamic is that in order to live with her and start a family, I have to exile myself out of my own country.” Under President Bill Clinton’s administration in 1996, a bill was signed that made falsely claiming U.S. citizenship a serious offense that prevents people from reentering the U.S. Back in 2005, when oral declarations of citizenship were commonly used, Valtierra’s older sister incorrectly stated that the siblings were U.S. citizens. Falcon and his fiancée did not recognize how serious the situation was until they visited the U.S. Consulate.
By having the marriage take place on the bridge that connects the two cities, Falcon and Valtierra intentionally did it as a publicity stunt to raise awareness of the injustice of some immigration laws. “We want to present another face to America,” he said. “Immigration does not only affect illegal immigrants but it also affects us as U.S. citizens and is affecting a lot of families.” Falcon has been working with American Families United (AFU), a pro-immigration reform organization that specifically concentrates on complex cases dealing with marriage and immigration. The group is helping to propose legislation intending to address unique situations such as Falcon and Valtierra’s. According to AFU’s legislative director, Bruce Morrison, Falcon is being forced to choose between his love and his country. Hopefully new legislation will overlook Valtierra’s previous offense and allow the couple to reside together in the same country.
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