When people have lived their lives as U.S. citizens in California, they expect to receive their passports when they plan to travel abroad. However, immigration lawyers report a growing number of cases in which American citizens are denied passports despite having a U.S. birth certificate. In many of these cases, people have lived their lives as citizens, including participating in elections or serving in the military. However, they are now seeing their citizenship called into question because they were born near the border. Some people have even been held in immigration detention or threatened with deportation.
The federal government has stated that it is denying passport applications due to suspected fraudulent birth certificates, citing 1990s court cases in which midwives admitted to forging some birth documents for kids born in the border area around the Rio Grande Valley. While the Trump administration's immigration crackdown has sparked fear in affected communities across the country, this issue goes back to previous administrations. Many families birth children with the assistance of midwives in the area, due to both traditional practices and the expenses of hospital healthcare and delivery. In any case, the state of Texas issued all of the birth certificates in question decades ago.
One 2009 class-action lawsuit spearheaded by the ACLU led to a settlement with the federal government on behalf of American citizens denied passports. Following the lawsuit, most people denied passports were successfully able to obtain their legal travel documents; however, as of 2018, passport denial cases are again on the rise.
People who have lived in the United States their entire lives may face disturbing and unsettling challenges from the federal government. Citizens who are denied passports, threatened with deportation or faced with requests for difficult-to-obtain documents might work with an immigration lawyer. An attorney may help people protect their rights and challenge government assertion.