More Than 60 Years After Moving To the U.S., Florida Man Discovers He’s Not Here Legally

Outside Jimmy Klass’s mobile home in Clearwater, Fla., symbols of American pride hang not just front and center but also on the side and back of his home. America is, after all, the only home this 66-year-old has ever known. He moved to the U.S. in 1959, but in 2020 discovered that he’s not actually a U.S. citizen. Klass said it all came to light after he applied for the Social Security retirement benefits he had paid into his entire working life. Klass was born in Canada. His mother was Canadian, but his father was American, born and raised in New York. Klass said his family moved to the U.S. when he was 2 and stayed here. As Klass got older, he assumed that he, too, was an American. Klass said he was never questioned about his citizenship status, not even when he got his Social Security card, driver’s license, or voter registration card. His citizenship status wasn’t even questioned when he applied for and was approved to serve as a Marine in the U.S. military. He didn’t end up serving because he wound up getting a union job. At one point in his life, he was even approved to work for the New Jersey State Police. After learning that he wasn’t really a U.S. citizen, Klass formally applied for status but was denied. U.S. Customs & Immigration Services said Klass didn’t provide enough evidence to prove his father lived in the U.S. for 10 years before Klass was born, which is a requirement for a child seeking citizenship through a parent. Klass contacted Senator Marco Rubio’s office for help, hired an immigration attorney, and even consulted a genealogist who found records linking Klass’ dad to the U.S. in the years before he was born. Still, his fight continues to this day. When asked what happens if his case doesn’t get resolved and how it has changed his view of America, Klass said, “I’ll probably move back to Canada. Yep, bye-bye, America.”