Not sure how this is legal, but there are reports coming out of South Texas that the State Department has been denying passports to U.S. citizens with valid birth certificates, in some cases even sending them to detention centers or refusing them re-entry to the United States from Mexico.
A Washington Post report released recently heavily cites the experience of a man named Juan (last name withheld to avoid persecution by ICE) who served first in the U.S. Army, then in Border Patrol and is currently a prison guard was denied when attempting to renew his passport. After spending his entire life in uniforms for the U.S. government, he was sent a letter by the state department denying his request for renewal. Though the State Department said in a statement that it “has not changed policy or practice regarding the adjudication of passport applications,” it added 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.”
Even after searching for and providing the State Department with tons of random documentation everything from evidence of his mother’s prenatal care, to his baptismal certificate and rental agreements from when he was a baby he was STILL denied his passport renewal. Juan is understandably furious, saying “I served my country. I fought for my country.” And he has since sought legal representation.
Jaime Diez, an attorney in Brownsville, told the Post that he has seen these types of cases skyrocket recently. He represents dozens of U.S. citizens who have had their passport requests or renewals denied or whose passports have been confiscated. The government claims it all stems from a case that was settled in 2009 which found that border town midwives had falsified some documents claiming that babies born in Mexico were actually born on U.S. soil. But that case was seemingly settled in 2009 when the ACLU brought a suit against the U.S. government for doing EXACTLY what the Trump administration is doing now and won. “The new procedures agreed to by the government are aimed at restoring the core American values of fairness and equality to the ways in which it issues U.S. passports,” Vanita Gupta, staff attorney with the ACLU Racial Justice Program who worked on the case along with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project said back in 2009. “Citizens will no longer be denied a passport solely because of their race, ancestry or because they happened to be born at home with a midwife.”
These actions (denying passports, stripping citizenship, rendering ppl stateless) are what you see in countries notorious for perpetrating abuses against their own people, especially religious and ethnic minorities. Can it happen here? It can and is. https://t.co/N5coA1Cfrh
— Samantha Power (@SamanthaJPower) August 29, 2018
It’s become more clear with every passing day that the Trump administration has no respect for Latinos or our families as productive members of U.S. society and with every racist immigration policy he passes, it solidifies his status as one of the most horrific presidents for people of color the country has seen in a long while. As it stands, Latinos in Texas facing doubts from the State Dept about their legal citizenship status are being asked absolutely ludicrous questions, like, “Do you remember being born?” Guess we shouldn’t be surprised by the insanity of these questions or even the the fact that executive powers are being used not only to deny U.S. born Latino children citizenship, but more importantly, disenfranchise communities in a very Democratic part of Texas. “That’s where it gets scary,” Diez told the Post. We couldn’t agree more.