AUSTIN, Minn. (KMSP) - A citizenship fight is playing out in Minnesota, and a lawsuit has been filed against the U.S. State Department. A young Austin man says he was born and raised here, but is now trying to prove he's an American citizen.
On Tuesday, there was a pretrial hearing in Minneapolis federal court.
“We're suing the agency that refused to issue him a passport. We're suing the agency that refused to issue him a social security card,” attorney Matthew Armbrecht said.
20-year-old Maycol Quetzecua's attorney said he hopes the situation can be resolved before it goes to trial, and believes it could happen with the witness testimony and evidence the government will now have to consider.
Evidence not adequate enough
Armbrecht claims Quetzecua was born in Austin, Minnesota on Jan. 13, 1996. To prove it, he showed Fox 9 his baptismal certificate, school records, and even a birth certificate issued by the state. But the documents were registered much later in his life, which has become problematic.
The feds say the evidence presented so far isn't adequate enough to prove his citizenship. St. Thomas law professor Virgil Wiebe said the burden of proof is on Quetzecua, and his only chance to convince the government may be the witnesses.
Birth never registered
His birth was never registered because Quetzecua was born in an apartment with the help of an undocumented midwife, Armbrecht said. He was also never taken to the hospital because his parents, who are undocumented, were concerned over fears of deportation.
His grandparents then registered his birth in Mexico so he would at least have some type of papers, further complicating the situation.
In addition, "the pastor unfortunately who presided over the baptism I believe has passed away,” Armbrecht said.
'He's a victim'
At this point, his parents and the midwife remain his best witnesses and chance at citizenship.
“He’s kind of a victim in this. If you want to blame his parents, fine. But he's done nothing wrong,” Armbrecht said. “All he's done is be born here.”
Quetzecua was unavailable to speak with Fox 9, but his attorney said they've tried every other measure before this lawsuit. The state department did not return requests for comment.