Is This 95-Year-Old WWII Vet an Anchor Baby? (Video)

Screenshot courtesy KOMO-TV


If this won’t make a birther’s head explode, nothing will.

Meet Leeland Davidson, 95, of Centralia, Washington. He was a cracker-jack sailor for Uncle Sam’s Navy in the big one, Double-You Double-You Eye-Eye. He’s made his home in the Pacific Northwest forever. He’s on Social Security. And he recently looked into getting an “enhanced driver’s license” so he could trek over the border to visit a Canadian cousin, who’s the same age, according to KOMO-TV and Yahoo.

Davidson didn’t get the license. Because he’s not a US citizen. And the old man’s been told that if he presses the point, he could be deported…to Canada.

See, it turns out he was born in British Columbia in 1916. As in the year of the Easter Rebellion and the Battle of the Somme. Sure, Davidson’s parents were “American,” as in “born in apple-pie locales like Nebraska (mom) and Iowa (dad).” But in terms of keeping up on paperwork, his folks might as well have been godless Huns in the service of the kaiser, since they couldn’t be bothered to file any documents with Uncle Sam on young Leeland’s situation. It’s like some strange reverse-anchor-baby deal: Make your debut on the wrong side of the border, and lose your shot at Americanness, no matter how many Japanese subs you sink or Toby Keith songs you listen to.

Of course, once the bombs fell on Pearl Harbor, the Navy didn’t care about his birthin’:

He checked up on his citizenship before joining the Navy and was told by an inspector at the U.S. Department of Labor Immigration and Naturalization Service he had nothing to worry about. Now he worries that he won’t be able to prove his citizenship, because his parents were born in Iowa before local governments started keeping records of birth certificates in 1880. “I want it squared away before I pass away,” he says.

But wait for the best part! Davidson’s daughter kinda wishes he’d drop the whole thing, because: “Employees at the local passport office scared them, telling her father ‘If he pursued it, (he could) possibly be deported or [be] at risk of losing Social Security.'”

Let that one sink in. Better yet, just watch the video below. The good news is, some section of the federal government is hip to the Kafkaesque absurdity going down here, and has assured Davidson he can join the ranks of les Américains with signatures on a few form letters. We’re sure the intercession of Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) didn’t hurt. But for Davidson’s sake, he’s lucky the Evergreen State’s pols are a little more enlightened than Louie Gohmert, Steve King, and Russell Pearce. Where’s the longform “certificate of citizenship”, dammit?!

“I’m an American citizen,” Davidson told KOMO. “Why should I have to fill out these forms, that’s what irks me.”

How rude and presumptuous. He must be a foreigner!

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.