Over the Hill

Grover Beach mother should have applied for citizenship before she was deported

Neofita Valerio-Silva of Grover Beach was deported to Mexico last week after living in the United States for 25 years. She left behind two adult children and a 16-year-old, all of who were born here.
Neofita Valerio-Silva of Grover Beach was deported to Mexico last week after living in the United States for 25 years. She left behind two adult children and a 16-year-old, all of who were born here. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

A 47-year-old Mexican woman who owns a home in Grover Beach was deported last week by immigration officials.

She’d lived in the United States 25 years. She was taken into custody Wednesday and deported the next day to Mexico. Her 16-year-old daughter, who is a high school cheerleader, also lives in that home.

The story was on the Tribune front page last Friday and on my mind ever since. Immigration stories always interest me. My four grandparents were all immigrants, two from Holland and two from Ireland.

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The name of the deported woman is Neofita Valerio-Silva. She also has a 23-year-old daughter and an 18-year-old son. All three of the children were born in the United States and are American citizens.

Valerio-Silva’s husband, the children’s father, is a Mexican citizen, living near Acapulco. The 23-year-old daughter is a medical assistant living in San Diego. She plans to move back to Grover Beach to be with the younger children. She also hopes to keep the family from losing their house.

Their mother may be banned from returning to the United States for 10 years.

She should have applied to become an American citizen. Maybe she just couldn’t work that into her life at the time. She would have had to return to Mexico and applied for legal entry to the USA. How long that would have taken would have depended on how many other Mexicans were applying.

But I can’t help feeling sorry for her.

I also see the other side in this story. Any nation, not just the United States, must regulate visitors and immigrants. There’s little point in having borders if outsiders can cross them whenever they want to.

What, after all, is a nation? My pocket Webster’s New World Dictionary says a nation is “a stable community of people with a territory, culture and language in common.”

Some people may doubt that the United States has a common culture.

For example, on the surface, California, Arkansas and Hawaii don’t seem to have common cultures. But thanks to frequent travel and the influence of movies, TV and the internet, our 50 individualist states still have much in common.

And history warns us we must always be careful about whom we let come inside our boundaries.

The territory that is now the United States was once a loose patchwork of Indian nations and tribes. But then people from Europe intruded, invaded and engulfed the Indian nations.

Then 170 years ago the United States engulfed and seized large areas of the Mexican nation.

And now some residents and high officials of the Unites States fear the tide is turning. They now fear people from south of the border might engulf our southwestern states and dominate them.

So now from the very highest levels of the United States government we hear frequent calls and promises to build a wall along the Mexican border. Few details are provided.

Skeptics doubt it’s practical. True believers, however, keep on believing.

Phil Dirkx’s column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Paso Robles for more than five decades, and his column appears here every other week. Reach Phil Dirkx at 805-238-2372 or phild2008@sbcglobal.net.

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