Monday, May 5, 2014

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is a date that means different things to different people. For some a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, for others a chance to enjoy margaritas, Coronas and tacos, or to commemorate the Mexican army's victory of French troops at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Today I reflect back on my own Mexican heritage, and the journey of my great-grandfather Plutarco Campuzano from Sonora to Arizona.

In January I wrote about the letter from Citizenship and Immigration Services on Plutarco's Alien Case file. I was beginning to think the file would never arrive, but a package from USCIS arrived in the mail this Saturday. Now I understand the delay. Because the file contained documents after the USCIS cut-off-date of 1 May 1951, those records had to be released by a Freedom of Information Act request. Thankfully USCIS submitted the FOIA request on my behalf. The file contained 12 pages, including color photocopies of his Alien Registration Card.
Source: US Citizenship & Immigration Services
In May 2012, I wrote about Plutarco, and included copies of border crossing records which referenced his permanent resident alien status received on 10 January 1929. The photo above shows the actual document granting him an Immigration Visa at Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. Other pages in the file confirm what I already knew, that Plutarco had been living in Tucson (he claimed 1923 to 9 January 1929, returned to Mexico on 9 January and then went back to Arizona after receiving his immigrant visa. He was listed as 5 feet 6 inches with an occupation as painter. This visa was renewed on 9 September 1942.

A separate alien registration form dated 19 November 1940 in Tucson states that Plutarco first arrived on foot in the US at Sasabe, Arizona on 28 January 1915. It notes that Plutarco was a member of the Painters Union in 1938, and his current employer at the time was general contractor W. S. Conelly.

Plutarco signed a Declaration of Intention, which was endorsed by Evelyn Fields, Deputy Clerk of the US District Court for the District of Arizona on 3 June 1944 in Tucson. His name was signed on the form Plutarco Vasquez Campuzano. Plutarco's case files were consolidated on 14 July 1944. There were separate files on his original immigration visa and his reentry permit.

An updated address card was signed on 5 January 1951, which shows him as a national of Mexico, residing at 453 South Main Street, Tucson, Arizona.

The town of Altar in Sonora where Plutarco was from is located approximately 60 miles from the US border crossing at Sasabe. This is desert terrain. In January 1915 perhaps it would not be as hot, but likely Plutarco walked at night. It is another 71 miles or more from Sasabe to Tucson. It is a strong reminder of what we have today thanks to the efforts of those before us. I am glad the file arrived and that I have this information on the family's journey to the US.

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