The Trump Administration, not satisfied with forming a denaturalization task force, throwing Latino citizens out of the military, and putting the children of immigrants in cages, is now attempting to revoke the citizenship of Latinos born on the border of Mexico and Texas, a horrifyingly authoritarian move that puts thousands of naturalized U.S. citizens at risk. A horrifying Washington Postarticle revealed that these Latino citizens are having their passports revoked in the name of "citizenship fraud," a problem that, like voter fraud, doesn't exist in substantial numbers to justify a change in policy, but is enough of a bogeyman for them to justify their end results.
The reasoning behind this has to do with the long-standing practice of Latinos having midwives who assist in childbirth (a common practice at the border since many who rely on it are too poor to afford a hospital visit) forge U.S. birth certificates. In the 90s, Elizabeth Lopez was accused of filling out 150 birth certificates for the children she helped deliver, the majority of which were false. She was uncovered with several other midwives in the Rio Grande Valley who did the same thing. Under President George W. Bush, the U.S. State Department denied passports to children born in this area; shortly after Barack Obama took office, the government settled with the ACLU to end this practice, allowing all who had previously been deemed ineligible to reapply for a passport.
In a recent, statement, the State Department justified this change in policy, arguing:
"[Applicants] who have birth certificates filed by a midwife or other birth attendant suspected of having engaged in fraudulent activities, as well as applicants who have both a U.S. and foreign birth certificate, are asked to provide additional documentation establishing they were born in the United States…Individuals who are unable to demonstrate that they were born in the United States are denied issuance of a passport.”
The stories related in the Post article are gut-wrenching. Juan, a prison guard and former military officer, had his passport application rejected this year. When he complained, he was asked to produce several obscure documents to prove his citizenship, including his baptismal certificate and evidence of his mother's prenatal care. Although he was able to find some of these documents, they were not enough to placate the state department.
Last summer, a 35-year-old Latino citizen crossing the border from Reynosa, Mexico, into McAllen, Texas, was interrogated by customs when they took his passport. They tried to force him to admit he wasn't a citizen, but he refused. He was released after three days in a detention center but had his passport revoked and will face a deportation hearing next year. Many of those who can afford it are seeking legal representation, and the number of cases involving this activity are "skyrocketing," according to attorney Jennifer Correro.
It's difficult to imagine how things can get worse for the Latino population in the United States. Adolf Hitler was in power for two years before the Nuremberg Laws took away the rights of Jews to hold property and certain jobs. Trump, who has been power for even less time, is has matched his pace. One only hopes he doesn't get further.