Reports from South Texas show that a growing number of Hispanic Americans are being denied passports. In many cases, the individuals who are being denied by the State Department are people who have been issued passports in the past, people who have served in the US military, and people who have birth records that show they were born in the United States.
The problem is not a new one, but several lawyers working with US clients along the US/Mexico border say that they have seen a significant uptick in cases over the last two years.
Here’s what’s going on: the government claims that from the 1950s to the 1990s, midwives and physicians who performed home births along the border fraudulently issued US birth certificates to babies that were actually born in Mexico. A few birth attendants have admitted to doing just that in court.
The problem is that, in rural southern Texas in the decades described, a large portion of the heavily Hispanic population’s children were delivered by midwives. But because some children may have been issued fraudulent birth certificates, the State Department seems to be of the opinion that any Hispanic person born near the border by the hands of a midwife or other at-home attendant during the 40-year window must be subjected to additional (and oftentimes absurd) levels of scrutiny.
The practice is patently racist. It began under President George W. Bush and was continued under President Obama’s administration, but the practice was halted for the most part in 2009 thanks to a settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Unfortunately, denials of passport applications have picked back up under the Trump administration, and what’s worse, some applicants have been put into immigration detention centers and pressed into deportation proceedings, according to the lawyers and individuals involved.
One man affected by the situation told the Washington Post that the State Department requested evidence of his mother’s prenatal care, a baptism certificate, and rental agreements that his parents would have had when he was a baby. The man was able to provide some of the documentation, but was still denied a passport.
Another man had his passport application denied in 2008, but was eventually able to contest the denial and get his passport. Now that his passport is expiring, the State Department requested more information from him, including a picture of the building he was born in, baptism records, and school records.
Still other people served in the military and were able to obtain military identifications and clearance, but they are now being denied passports.
If you are having any such trouble with your passport application or renewal, please do not hesitate to contact our team. We’ll be happy to address any questions you may have related to the passport application process.
Rob Lee is co-founder of Swift Passport and Visa Services. Originally from Michigan, Rob is an avid fisherman and SCUBA diver who enjoys adventure travel.