Faces of Immigration: Mother in Murfreesboro sent back to Mexico in citizenship battle
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WZTV) —
It's a commonly held belief to become a U.S. Citizen, all you have to do is marry one.
But there's a family in Murfreesboro proving that couldn't be further from the truth.
A mother and wife of four girls returned to Mexico thinking she'd come back closer to U.S. citizenship, only to be banned from America, and stuck in one of the most dangerous cities in the entire world.
Alma Goddard came over the southern border illegally in 2005 with her eldest daughter.
In 2008, she met, fell in love, and married Shane Goddard, a natural-born U.S. citizen.
"Just because you're married to a U.S. citizen does not change any kind of legal status whatsoever," said Shane Goddard. "My wife was really just tired of living in the shadows and wanted to make things right even with the climate we're in now."
After years of waiting, and nearly $10,000 in fees, the couple decided it would be safe for her to return to Mexico to get a visa at the U.S. Consulate.
Everything appeared to be going smoothly, until her interview with an immigration official in Ciudad Juarez.
"They have claimed that she stated she was a U.S. citizen when she crossed the border in 2005, however she never claimed to be a U.S. citizen, no one ever asked her anything, she never spoke to anyone, she was in the back of a vehicle," Goddard said.
The belief she falsified her status left Alma with a life-long penalty: banned from coming back to Murfreesboro forever.
Shane all of a sudden became a single father.
"It's hard to run a business and take care of my daughters but the main thing that rips me apart is when they start asking for their mother," explained Goddard.
"When they get up in the morning, they look for her, when they go to bed at night, they're crying for her, want to give her a hug and sugar every day that goes by gets harder," Goddard said.
A painful separation that's been going on for weeks, with no end in sight.
Goddard has taken his wife's case to Tennessee representatives in Washington.
He says the next step is for her to re-interview at the U.S. Consulate in Mexico, but that could take months and they've already been apart for more than three weeks.