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Advocacy Groups React to a Report That the U.S. Is Denying Passports and Detaining Latinx Citizens

Advocates respond to the Washington Post's reports that Hispanic people with American birth certificates were being treated as non-citizens.
A U.S. Border Patrol agent stands near the border fence between the United States and Mexico in Nogales, Arizona.

A U.S. Border Patrol agent stands near the border fence between the United States and Mexico in Nogales, Arizona.

Immigration attorneys and people directly affected have told the Washington Post that a rising number of border-town Latinxs who have American birth certificates have been denied passports, detained as non-citizens, and entered into deportation proceedings. Published on Wednesday, the report revealed that people who have had American birth certificates since they were babies are being accused of "citizenship fraud."

This is not the first time people with American birth certificates have faced these problems. Starting with the George W. Bush administration, the government began investigating "citizenship fraud" after public officials alleged that midwives and physicians in border towns had issued American birth certificates to babies born on the Mexican side of the border in the 1950s through the '90s (and some people have admitted to such practices in court). The practice continued in the early days of the Obama administration, but a court settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union largely ended the scrutiny of birth certificates in 2009.

Immigration attorneys told the Washington Post that the Trump administration, however, had ushered in a renewed strike against alleged fraud. Three advocacy groups weighed in on this development.

For South Texans, a passport is a necessary part of life. These communities work, shop, seek medical care, and have families on both sides of the border. The ACLU challenged this practice a decade ago to ensure that arbitrary and discriminatory passport denials would stop. We cannot let such a blatant attack on the civil rights of Americans stand.

Enrique Morones, Founder and Executive Director, Border Angels

We are outraged. [This is] another example of the Trump administration's racial profiling and just plain racist policies.

The Kino Border Initiative (Inciativa Kino Para la Frontera)

Recent reports that the Trump administration is denying passports and even detaining a number of individuals born in southern Texas [are] unfortunately just the latest example of how the president's restrictive immigration and border policies harm neighbors, families, and community members. We as a nation must do better to respect the basic rights and dignity of those in the borderlands.