Newly obtained documents from the United States Citizen and Immigration Services show that Congressman George Santos’ mother Fatima A.C.H. Devolder was not in the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001 as the newly elected congressman has claimed.
The over 90 pages of Santos’ mother’s immigration paperwork from 1988 to 2012 examined by the Forward confirm reports that the congressman lied about key aspects of his family history and reveal new details about his story.
Santos’ troubles began in December, when The New York Times revealed that the newly elected congressman had fabricated large swaths of his resume. Shortly after, the Forward broke the story that the embattled Republican had lied about his grandparents being Belgian and Ukrainian Jewish Holocaust survivors. Since then, stories of deceit and criminality have become daily media fodder. Allegations range from campaign finance law violations to stealing a former roommate’s scarf.
Despite ongoing investigations and calls by members of his own party to step down, Santos remains in the House of Representatives. While the embattled Long Island representative admitted to embellishing his resume and not being Jewish, he still maintains many outright falsehoods, including that his mother was in the World Trade Center on 9/11 and that the “ash cloud” caused her death 15 years later in 2016.
“George’s mother was in her office in the South Tower on September 11, 2001, when the horrific events of that day unfolded. She survived the tragic events on September 11th, but she passed away a few years later when she lost her battle to cancer,” the campaign website states. Previously, the “About George” section also described George’s mother Fatima A.C.H. Devolder as a financial executive.
An extract from Fatima A.C.H. Devolder’s paperwork. Courtesy of U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services
Immigration applications dating back to the 1980s paint a different picture. Devolder came to the United States in 1985 at the age of 21. Two decades later, she filled in a form that she spoke “little English.”
The Rio native wasn’t a bean counter, she was a bean picker. As a young woman with a 9th grade education, she arrived on a Seasonal Agricultural Workers visa and worked on a South Florida bean and squash farm for $2.50 an hour. Later, she moved to New York and worked as a home aide and housekeeper.
The documents released in a Freedom of Information Act request to the researcher Alex Calzareth and shared with The Forward, also place Devolder in the Rio De Janeiro suburb of Nitorei on September 11th, 2001.
Three months before the attacks, the congressman’s mother filed a request with the US Consulate in Rio De Janeiro for a replacement green card claiming hers was stolen after arriving in Brazil in June 1999. The situation was not resolved until another application is filed in early 2003. At the time, she again states that she had not been in the United States since 1999.
The same 2003 application filled out by hand by Devolder lists her father Paulo Devolder Horta of having been born in Rio in 1918 and her mother Rosalina Horta Devolder was also born in Rio in 1927 directly contradicting Santos’ continued claim that his maternal grandparents were born in Belgium and Ukraine and fled the Nazis in 1940 to Brazil.
Documents detail residences in Queens and Florida. Image by
The files do prove that the embattled congressman is not lying about one thing. He claims to have grown up in a basement apartment in Jackson Heights, Queens. A November 1988 medical examination form included in an application lists Devolder’s address as a Jackson Heights basement on 85th Street down the block from the elevated subway tracks. Santos was four months old.
But he must not have stayed long in the basement apartment. On the same residency application, his mother states she lived in a second floor apartment in Rego Park. Over the next 14 years, she would claim several modest addresses in western Queens. None of them suggest the rags-to-riches story of his mother that Santos touted to New York 3rd District voters.
The only luxurious address that appears is an apartment in the Beresford, the iconic co-op overlooking Central Park West. It’s where Devolder worked as a housekeeper and home aide in a private residence.
The post George Santos’ latest doozy — did he lie about 9/11 too? appeared first on The Forward.