WASHINGTON — Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., has claimed that his mother was at her office inside the World Trade Center during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but records obtained by NBC News on Wednesday show she was living in Brazil at the time.
The immigration records, unearthed through a Freedom of Information Act request by genealogical researcher Alex Calzareth and first reported by The Washington Post, show that Santos’ mother, Fatima Caruso Devolder, was admitted to the U.S. in April 2003 and had not been in the country since 1999. She had been living in Rio de Janeiro.
Devolder last left New York in 1999 and claimed in 2001 when she was back in Brazil that her green card had been stolen, according to the records. She later applied for re-entry and was re-admitted into the U.S. in 2003, the records show. Devolder indicated that she was unemployed or retired and that she planned to live in Woodside, New York, a neighborhood in Queens, according to the documents obtained via a FOIA request.
But even though the records show Devolder’s absence from the U.S. from 1999 to 2003, Santos’ congressional campaign website says: “George’s mother was in her office in the South Tower on Sept. 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.”
Santos’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
In 2021, when he was running for Congress, Santos claimed in a reply to an account on Twitter that 9/11 claimed his mother’s life. His campaign website says his mother died a few years after the attacks; she died in 2016.
Calzareth, who’s originally from Nassau County but not Santos’ congressional district, submitted the FOIA requests about Santos’ mother in late December. He said he initially made the request because he was interested in seeing whether Devolder was in the U.S. in 1988, when Santos was born. Government records show she was in the country from the mid-1980s until 1999.
Santos has lied about much of his background and résumé, and he is the subject of investigations at the state, local and federal levels. In an interview last month with the New York Post, he apologized for aspects of his biography.
“I’m embarrassed and sorry for having embellished my résumé,” he said, according to the paper. “I own up to that. … We do stupid things in life.”
Last week, The Hill reported that Santos told reporters, “I have done nothing unethical.”
A growing number of GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill are calling for him to resign. But House Republicans awarded him slots on two committees after pressure arose to prevent him from being seated on congressional panels.