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Liberal_in_LA Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 04:02 AM
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Stranded vagabond from U.S. can't prove citizenship
Stranded vagabond from U.S. can't prove citizenship

A vagabond musician from who lived illegally in Canada for 20 years has earned a dubious distinction, becoming one of the few Americans Canada deports each year to the U.S. Now he's like a man without country, lacking the ID he needs to get work or drive.

By Lornet Turnbull

Seattle Times staff reporter

BIRCH BAY, Whatcom County For 20 years, Michael "Kooch" Koch, a U.S. citizen, lived as an illegal immigrant in Canada.

He obtained a Canadian driver's license in 1989 and with his guitar and a boom box earned money making music on the streets and in parks around British Columbia.

Last fall, the law caught up with him on an old DUI conviction, and the 55-year-old vagabond musician earned a dubious distinction becoming one of the few American citizens the seemingly kinder, gentler neighbor to the north deports each year to the U.S.

For Koch, the consequences have been particularly profound. In this small waterfront community a few miles south of the Canadian border where he now lives, he is like a man without a country.

He can't get a driver's license in Washington state because six years ago Canada said he lacked a valid address and wouldn't renew the one he had.

Because he lacks ID, the New York State Department of Health won't give him a copy of his birth certificate.

And without any of those documents, he can't get a U.S. passport. Or a Social Security card.

Or a job although he admits he's never really held regular 9-to-5 employment.

So the eccentric Koch, with the look of a graying hippie, gets by on nudges and nods, and depends on the kindness of friends and strangers.
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