The Trump administration is accusing hundreds and possibly thousands of Hispanic Americans along the Texas-Mexico border of obtaining their citizenship using fraudulent birth certificates and the government is denying them passports as a result, according to a Washington Post report.
Some passport applicants have been turned down in the United States and sent to immigration detention facilities, while others have been left stuck in Mexico because their passports are getting suddenly revoked when they try to re-enter the country. Individuals that the Post spoke to said they’re baffled and have been using their birth certificates since they were babies.
According to the Post, it’s unclear precisely how many people are affected by this issue. But it comes as the Trump administration has increasingly gone after U.S. citizens in its crackdown on legal and illegal immigration. Over the last year, the administration has created a “denaturalization task force” to strip citizenship from people it says obtained it through fraud and has attempted to discharge immigrant military recruits who were seeking citizenship.
The State Department said it hasn’t changed any policy or practice on passport applications.
“There are numerous reasons why a customer may be asked to provide additional documentation or information. The burden of proving one’s identity and citizenship falls on the applicant for a U.S. passport regardless of where the application was submitted,” a Department of State spokesperson said in a statement.
The State Department said it is looking for additional documentation from applicants with birth certificates filed by midwives or “other birth attendants” who are suspected of fraudulent activities. Midwifery is common in rural and underserved communities along the border.
It’s unclear why the crackdown on birth certificates from midwives appears to be happening now. In federal court cases in the 1990s, several midwives admitted to fraudulently filing Texas birth certificates for babies who were born in Mexico. This led to the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations to deny passports for people born to midwives in the Rio Grande Valley.
In 2009, the ACLU settled a case with the government over the issue, and the number of passport denials seemed to fall, The Washington Post reported. The State Department didn’t respond to a question from HuffPost on why the denials were happening again.