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Pia Besmonte

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Consular Report of Birth Abroad

My son is a Filipino citizen by place of birth. His father is an American citizen, therefore he is also an American citizen by blood.

The decision to process his American citizenship was borne out of necessity. Mango’s paternal grandma got seriously injured, which caused her to miss my fiancé’s brother’s wedding in July. Her progress from physical therapy is miraculous, and we figured a visit from her first grandchild would make her happy so we are flying Mango to the US for Thanksgiving.

I am familiar with the requirements of the US Embassy in Manila because I was a US scholarship grantee. Last year I had to apply for a visa to the US. That was the first time I returned to America after my stint as a Global UGRAD exchange scholar to Barnard College, because the grant requires alumni to finish our degrees at our home universities. We also cannot apply for a visa to the US for at least two years after our grant.

I was detained by Homeland Security

Something happened with my J-1 visa. For some unknown reason, they didn’t cancel it when I went home. So, when I applied for a tourist visa, they thought I already have a student visa. The consular office at the US Embassy then gave me a single-entry tourist visa.

When we landed on US soil, I was held by Homeland Security. At this point I was seven months pregnant and my feet were swollen from hours of air travel. I was escorted to the holding area before I could find my fiancé and tell him what was going on. The security officers were curt. They asked me questions about my exchange scholarship which I readily had answers to. Good thing that I scanned my college diploma and had some documentation on my coming back to the Philippines, including giving talks at the US Embassy in Manila on my experiences as a US scholarship grantee.

My fiancé was flustered and livid. He demanded to see me because I was pregnant and I didn’t have any way of communicating with him (my phone didn’t work in the US) or anyone from home for that matter. He argued with the airport staff that I was being held for no reason. I was very calm, because I knew I was in the right and I didn’t break any law. Eventually they let me go. That was a very bizarre experience.

My son is Filipino and American

And he will grow up having the best values of both cultures. For now, we’ve just mailed in his application.

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