what is going on
Hispanic citizens born on the Texas side of the U.S.-Mexico border are having a hard time getting passports. They're also finding it impossible to get back into America if they leave.
That's because the federal government has resurfaced a 1990s legal dispute in which some midwives said they gave Texas birth certificates to babies born in Mexico near the U.S. border. Now, the Trump administration is disputing birth records of citizens born in that area and denying them passports — or outright revoking them, The Washington Post reports.
From the 1950s through the '90s, some midwives allegedly sold American birth certificates to families whose children were technically born in Mexico, the Post details. At least 900 fraudulent documents were found during a court case, per The Associated Press, leading the State Department to stop giving passports to people delivered by midwives near the Rio Grande during the Obama administration. A 2009 American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit slowed the practice, attorneys tell the Post, but now the government seems to be kicking into high gear once again.
In a statement, the State Department said its passport practices haven't changed. But immigration lawyers tell the Post that they've seen more and more applicants denied passports if they can't provide documentation beyond an official U.S. birth certificate. Some citizens are having their passports taken away if they go to Mexico and try to return home, while others are tossed into immigration detention centers and slated for deportation. Attorneys — one of whom said she's seen 20 clients detained — say it is basically impossible to tell which birth certificates are real and which ones aren't.
The issue is mostly affecting Hispanic people in a Democratic area of Texas. Read more about the passport catastrophe at The Washington Post.