A Genealogue News Flash [What's That?]New immigration rules signed into law last week by President Bush may result in the deportation of millions of American citizens.
The so-called Lackwitty-Winesack Border Protection Act was intended to grant amnesty to illegal aliens who have resided in the United States since 1990, and to their descendants. But typographical errors discovered in the text of the bill yesterday give the law a scope and severity not intended.
"In accordance with the requirements of this statute, I must ask every American to provide written proof that he or she has an ancestor who lived in this country prior to 1490," said Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff in a speech televised to the nation Thursday afternoon. "If proof is not received by next April fifteenth, deportation proceedings will ensue."
Upon hearing this news, Americans flooded genealogy message boards with queries about suspected Native American ancestors. Professional genealogists around the country have been inundated with calls, and many have doubled or tripled their hourly rates.
Representatives of several American Indian tribes are to meet Friday in Omaha, Nebraska, to discuss how they will govern once the deportations are complete.
Lawmakers in Washington are rushing to reverse the act, but President Bush has signaled that he will not sign any repeal.
"This is not the time to change direction," he told members of the press corps traveling with him aboard Air Force One. "That would just give hope to our enemies. When you're President, you can't afford to make mistakes. Or admit to them."