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101-year-old woman to become U.S. citizen thanks to old document

Eulalia Garcia Maturey will be sworn in as a U.S. citizen this week in Brownsville, Texas, at the age of 101. The ceremony will take place on the 101st anniversary of the woman’s crossing the border from Mexico into the U.S. The ceremony is made possible by a 69-year-old document, according to CNN.

The four-foot-seven woman told the news source that she is thrilled to become a citizen. “I want to spend the rest of my days in this life living legally in the United States,” she told CNN. “I was raised here and I want to die here.”

Maturey was just a baby when she crossed the Rio Grande on a ferry boat in the arms of her mother, on October 12, 1909. She said that back then it was easy to cross the border, as there were no patrolling agents and checkpoints did not focus on illegal immigration crossings.

The woman and her single mother took up residence in Brownsville, Texas, where she began schooling. After the third grade, Maturey dropped out of school to help her mother, who was earning money as a laundress.

Maturey was married at age 16, but by the time she was 21 her husband had passed away. Soon after, she married her second husband, with whom she had two children.

On April 4, 1941, Maturey received a Certificate of Lawful Entry from the U.S. government. She held onto the document and kept it in perfect condition, though she never expected it would be the key to her citizenship.

For years, Maturey didn’t know her status, as she was afraid to ask too many questions, fearing it would lead to her arrest. However, when the U.S. government passed a law requiring all citizens crossing the border into Mexico to hold a passport, her niece took her to the Immigration Services office in her town.

A worker at the office told her that her Certificate of Lawful Entry provided sufficient documentation to register as a U.S citizen. Now, with all of the paperwork taken care of, the news source reports that the centenarian is ready to become a citizen.

Many Mexican citizens, like Maturey and her mother, come to the U.S. seeking the opportunity to find employment so that they can send money home to family members. According ABC, Mexican workers sent a total of $21.2 billion in remittances in 2009.

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