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MALDEF Sues Ottawa Co. for Illegal Immigrants' Marriage Rights

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(Grand Rapids, MI - WHTC News) - The Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund has filed a federal lawsuit against Ottawa County and Clerk Dan Krueger, claiming that the constitutional rights to marriage were denied to an unnamed Latino couple from Holland because they couldn’t come up with social security numbers. One of the plaintiffs is an illegal immigrant. 

In a statement issued on Tuesday, MALDEF Regional Counsel Ricardo Meza stated, “All persons, regardless of immigration status, have the constitutional right to marry.” The statement continued: "In the complaint, plaintiffs allege that the policies and actions of defendants Krueger and Ottawa County violate the plaintiffs’ and all other similarly situated individuals’ constitutionally protected rights to due process and equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.  The complaint further alleges that Defendants’ policies and actions violate the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution by impermissibly regulating the federal government’s power over immigration and foreign affairs.  In addition, plaintiffs allege the defendants’ policy and practice unlawfully discriminates against plaintiffs and all other similarly situated individuals based upon their race and national origin in violation of Michigan’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act, M.C.L.A.§ 37.2101. MALDEF Staff Attorney Alejandro Aixala noted that 'County Clerk Krueger’s refusal to issue a marriage license because a person does not have a valid social security number is inconsistent with a March 19, 2008 Michigan Attorney General Opinion issued by Mike Cox.' According to the 2008 opinion, 'a county clerk may issue a marriage license to an applicant who fails to provide his or her social security number on the application if the person has never been issued a social security number.' The Plaintiffs in this matter are also represented by Robert Anthony Alvarez and James L. Betzold of the Avanti Law Group.  Mr. Alvarez recently filed a similar lawsuit on behalf of Latinos in Kent County, Michigan against County Clerk Mary Hollinrake.”

That lawsuit mentioned by MALDEF is pending, although there are reports that it could be dismissed by the judge in the case because MALDEF won't disclose the names of the plaintiffs. MALDEF claims that such disclosure in that case and in this litigation could lead to prosecution.

Ottawa County officials did not initially comment on this lawsuit.

-Gary Stevens, WHTC/WYVN News

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