Some U.S. citizens are being stripped of their passports, with their citizenship called into question, according to a startling new report.
The Washington Post reported Wednesday that a growing number of individuals with birth certificates showing they were born in the U.S. are being denied passports, accused of using fraudulent birth certificates. In some cases, these individuals are sent to immigration detention centers and entered into deportation proceedings, while others are blocked from re-entering the U.S. after their passports have been suddenly revoked.
The common thread amongst those facing such accusations? They are Hispanic, and were largely born near the Texas-Mexico border.
The State Department told The Post that it had “not changed policy or practice regarding the adjudication of passport applications.” Nevertheless, it noted 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 government alleges that between the 1950s and 1990s some midwives and physicians operating along the border provided U.S. birth certificates to babies who were in fact born in Mexico. There have been a few instances in which birth attendants admitted to this behavior, but many of these midwives also delivered thousands of babies in the U.S. legally.
Despite the State Department’s assurances that there have been no policy changes, the Post found through interviews conducted with individuals and immigration attorneys that there has been a “dramatic shift in both passport issuance and immigration enforcement.”
One immigration attorney in Brownsville, Jaime Diez, told the Post that he’s had at least 20 clients, all American citizens, who have been sent to detention centers. In some instances, ICE reportedly appeared at their homes “without notice and taken passports away.” Another attorney interviewed for the article, Jennifer Correro, said that she has seen the number of cases involving the revocation of passports “skyrocket.”
As the Trump administration continues to drive forward attempts to reduce legal and illegal immigration, the passport denials are just the latest in a series of efforts. Yet these denials come at an added cost: the administration has also been working to tighten voter ID laws, which would likely affect the same group of individuals, a group that is predominantly Hispanic and Democrat.