The federal government is increasingly denying passports to Latinx citizens along the southern border and, in some cases, placing them in immigrant detention centers and deportation proceedings, according to The Washington Post.
In an article published Thursday (August 29), The Post reports that the Trump administration is accusing hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Latinxs along the Texas-Mexico border of using fraudulent birth certificates as part of a widespread crackdown of so-called “citizenship fraud.” Many of the individuals accused of fraud were delivered by midwives and physicians along the southern border from the 1950s through the 1990s.
From The Post:
In some cases, passport applicants with official U.S. birth certificates are being jailed in immigration detention centers and entered into deportation proceedings. In others, they are stuck in Mexico, their passports suddenly revoked when they tried to reenter the United States. As the Trump administration attempts to reduce both legal and illegal immigration, the government’s treatment of passport applicants in South Texas shows how U.S. citizens are increasingly being swept up by immigration enforcement agencies.
Over the past year, the Trump administration has turned its sights on naturalized citizens as part of a broader attempt to squash immigration to the United States. It has discharged immigrants from the military and recently formed a denaturalization taskforce that seeks out individuals suspected of providing false information on their citizenship applications.
At the heart of Trump’s “zero tolerance” police on border crossings, where thousands of immigrant families have been separated, the federal government is now revoking and denying passports to Latinxs born in the United States.
According to The Post, the issue stems from government allegations during the 1990s that birth attendants had provided fraudulent birth documents. Although several midwives admitted the accusations were true, they also delivered babies within the United States. Based on these cases, the U.S. Department of State under George W. Bush began investigating “citizenship fraud” and denying passports to people who were delivered by midwives in the Texas Rio Grande Valley. In 2009, a government settlement with several civil rights and legal groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas, seemed to have mostly put an end to the practice. The number of denials declined during the remainder of the Obama administration, but they still continued, according to The Post.
Passport denials are now surging under the Trump administration.
The State Department told The Post in a statement that it “has not changed policy or practice regarding the adjudication of passport applications,” adding that “the U.S.-Mexico border region happens to be an area of the country where there has been a significant incidence of citizenship fraud.”
The State Department is requiring people who have birth certificates filed by midwives, particularly any suspected of engaging in allegedly fraudulent activities, to provide additional documents to prove that they were born in the United States. Per the Post, the agency has neither disclosed how many passports have been denied nor issued a list of the midwives it suspects of committing fraud.
*This article has been updated to accurately reflect that passport denials continued under the Obama administration after the 2009 settlement.