« WSAU Opinion Blog

OPINION - Bringing Connie home

by Chris Conley

NEWS BLOG (WSAU) The case of Connie McCallister is strange, sensational, sad… and also surprisingly simple.

Since we don’t know otherwise, let’s assume her story is true as reported. It sounds like there are missing pieces. In 2004 as a 16-year-old girl she went to a party with her 22-year-old boyfriend. She claims she was drugged and woke up in Mexico… taken out of the country without her knowledge and against her will. She claims her boyfriend abused her. While in Mexico she left him, and took up with another man --- who was also abusive. She changed her name so her attackers couldn’t find her. She’s since gotten married, had three children, and was found by a missionary working in a farm field and in generally poor health. In a decade, her case was largely forgotten here. Now she’d like to return to the U.S.

It’s strange that she’d disappeared for so long and hadn’t attempted to return to America sooner. The explanation may be that reaching for help may not be so easy for someone in poverty and appears to be dependent on the sketchy men in her life.

The simple part about this case is bringing Connie McCallister home. She’s a U.S. citizen. As an American her children are U.S. citizens as well, even though they were born in another country. If she wants to come back to Wisconsin, she has every right.

Laurels to Trinity Lutheran Church in Athens for starting a fundraising campaign to help bring her home. She will need money travel expenses and will need assistance in re-starting her life here. I’m hopeful that the larger community will show compassion for her and will donate generously.

This case is also a test for the U.S. government. Will the government will come to the aid of a helpless citizen in trouble? Or will Connie McCallister’s case get bogged down in red tape? She surely has no passport. No papers. Her kids are probably undocumented. It’s unclear if there will be a custody fight. We don’t know if she can get to an American consulate, or to the border, or how her travel arrangements would be made. It could take a very long time to get all these issues sorted out. I hope that doesn’t happen.

Our big American bureaucracy needs to show compassion. Hopefully Senators Ron Johnson, Tammy Baldwin, or Rep. Sean Duffy will take up Connie McCallister’s cause. We’ve bent the rules for others:

Hip hop singers mysteriously are allowed to vacation in Cuba.

We decide not to enforce deportation rules when illegals are caught in our country.

We look the other way when foreign students’ visas expire – even the ones who turned out to be the Boston Marathon bombers.

Why not Connie McCallister? An American citizen is in dire straights in Mexico. If it’s her wish, she should be on her way back to the United States – now.

Chris Conley
11.7.13

Contributions to the Connie McCallister trust fund can be sent to:

Athens Area Credit Union
112 Alfred Street
Athens, WI  45511