On September 12, I was beside myself as I listened to the manager of a local apartment complex explain to me that a person who cannot produce a birth certificate must be a terrorist, and that, due to the Patriot Act, she must have a birth certificate for all persons wishing to live there. The problem with this is that one of my roommates does not have a birth certificate. You see, he was born in Mexico at a hospital that was torn down. Since Mexico does not keep the same records that the USA does, there is no record of his birth. He does, however, have papers from the US government showing that he obtained his naturalized citizenship, which he used in 2001 to serve in the US Army. He served for four years and is currently completing four years in the Army Reserves.

I informed the manager of his military career, and she explained to me that without a birth certificate he could be a terrorist. That being the case, she also informed me that he is not allowed on the property to speak with her in person, not even to clear this up. She then continued to ask me if he had been dishonorably discharged.

I am not an apartment manager, but does anyone else see what this had to do with anything? If she needed to know, why would she assume he was dishonorably discharged? Why not ask from a positive perspective? I then offered to her his military ID issued by the US Department of Defense, as well as his passport issued by the US Department of Justice, neither of which were good enough for her. At this point, sheís never even met my roommate and has decided he is a terrorist because he was born in Mexico.

She then said that since he was Catholic, the church in which he was baptized would have copies of his birth certificate. She said that in addition to a copy of this paperwork, she would also need two witnesses of his birth, besides his mother, notarized by the state of Texas. She automatically assumed that because he was brown that he must be a Catholic.

All this being said, this woman is discriminating against a foreign-born, American citizen and a US Army veteran. My roommate had ample proof of his citizenship to join the US Army, to attend college at Tarleton and pursue a nursing career, to live in his current apartment complex, to have utilities in his name, and to work in a doctorís office. He graduated from a Texas high school. His family still lives in his Texas hometown. All of this is provable, but he cannot live in these particular apartments because he does not have a copy of his birth certificate. My mother is 37 years old, and the last time she needed her birth certificate was when she was 16 and got her driverís license. She has not been able to find her birth certificate for 15 years. My roommate also has a driverís license, which he obtained legally without a birth certificate, by the way.

Courtney Alvarado

Mineral Wells