Brownsville, Texas — Texans living along the U.S.-Mexico border are receiving letters by the U.S. Department of State are trying to request a new passport.
Although U.S. citizens with birth certificates in hand, they’re getting their passports revoked and applications denied because the government suspects they weren't born in the country.
In the letters, the government says it suspects the applicants were not born in the U.S. even if their birth certificates say otherwise, and therefore they will not issue a passport until the applicant can prove them wrong by submitting several documents and evidence.
But why are they being singled out? The answer is that they were born to a midwife.
A letter obtained by the KENS 5 Border Team from an applicant who wished not to be named, reads:
“Midwife births were and are a common in border areas of the United States, particularly along the Texas-Mexico border. The Department has evidence that some birth attendants fraudulently registered some births as having occurred in the United States even though they actually occurred outside the United States.”
“Now it’s getting to the point where every week I probably get between five to ten people to come over that are having some issue with their passport,” said Brownsville-based immigration attorney Jaime Diez.
Diez claims to have represented numerous U.S. citizens facing these issues since 2007, including military veterans and Border Patrol agents. He believes the government is unfairly targeting those born to midwives along the southern border, a majority of whom are Hispanic with strong ties to Mexico.
“They are detaining people at the port of entry taking away their documents, or revoking passports,” he said. “When you come back you present your passport and they tell you, ‘you know what? Your passport was revoked, why? I don’t know, but you can’t enter the United States.’”
Applicants are asked to produce a number of documents within 90 days, which include baptism certificates, early medical records, parents’ residency information before and after birth, pre-natal care, family bibles, baby books and more.
“You cannot just say that everyone that was born in southern Texas with a midwife is a fraud,” said Diez.
The State Department said in a statement that passport denials in midwife cases are at a six-year low and that policies remain unchanged since a legal settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union in 2009.
Even so, Diez believes the agency needs to approach the issue in a different way.
“Is that the way to go ahead and treat a United States citizen?” Diez asked. “I think it’s not only unfair it’s also a waste of resources because the people they are targeting are not criminals.”