Questions raised about Mia Love's immigrant parents story

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 25 2012 11:00 a.m. MDT

Saratoga Springs Mayor and congressional candidate Mia Love speaks Sept. 7, 2012, at Thanksgiving Point.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — Questions are being raised about how the parents and siblings of Republican congressional candidate Mia Love obtained U.S. citizenship.

And Love blames her 4th Congressional District opponent Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson for bringing it up, a claim the six-term congressman calls "utter nonsense."

As the latest dust-up between the candidates swirled, Love's campaign released an internal poll showing her with a double-digit lead over Matheson. The Matheson campaign quickly discounted the results.

During the campaign, Love has told and retold the story about how her parents fled Haiti with $10 in their pockets, worked hard to make a life for their family and insisted their daughter not be a burden on society.

But the liberal-leaning Mother Jones magazine on Monday questioned whether Love is what Republicans derisively call an "anchor baby" — someone born to immigrant parents specifically to game the system and secure legal status for family members.

Love herself in a January 2011 column in the Deseret News said, "My parents have always told me I was a miracle and our family's ticket to America."

According to the story, Love's parents' visas did not allow them to bring anyone other than themselves. They had to leave their young children, son Jean and daughter Cynthia, behind.

There was an immigration law in place, however, that would grant the entire family citizenship if Jean Maxine and Mary Bourdeau had a baby in America.

But there was a deadline. The law was set to expire on Jan. 1, 1976.

On Dec. 6, 1975, with 25 days to spare, Love was born in a Brooklyn hospital. In no time, her older brother and sister were sent for in Haiti, and the family was reunited.

Mother Jones says it doesn't appear such a law existed.

Mia Love appearance on KSL Newsradio's Doug Wright Show

Love became defensive Tuesday and went on the attack when asked on KSL NewsRadio about the Mother Jones story. She blamed Matheson for the issue coming up.

"I think it's so sad Jim Matheson and his friends would go so far as attacking my family, attacking the American dream," she said. "If I weren't running against Jim Matheson, none of these things would come into question."

Love did not offer any evidence that Matheson or his campaign was involved in the story surfacing. She also deflected questions about whether she would be considered an "anchor baby."

"Have we asked Jim Matheson about his ancestors?" she said.

Matheson strongly denied Love's claim of his involvement in the story.

"It's an incredibly reckless statement to make. I didn't have anything to do with this. I think it's ridiculous that she's saying those things," he said Tuesday.

Asked how he thought the story would play for the remainder of the campaign, Matheson said, "I don't know and I don't care." He said he'd rather focus on the stark political differences between himself and Love.

According to immigration lawyers and U.S. immigration officials, there doesn't appear to have been a law of the kind described in the Deseret News column that would have conferred citizenship on Love's parents, let alone her siblings, by simply having a baby in the United States, Mother Jones reported.

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