(WCMH/CNN) –Along the border between the U.S. and Mexico, some Latino-Americans say the U.S. government is denying them passports, and even starting deportation proceedings against them.
A Washington Post report details a recent spike in some life-long Americans suddenly having their citizenship questioned. The paper reports people some people born near the border are having their citizenship called into question when they apply for a passport or attempt to re-enter the country.
According to the Post, “The Trump administration is accusing hundreds, and possibly thousands, of Hispanics along the border of using fraudulent birth certificates since they were babies, and it is undertaking a widespread crackdown.”
Scrutiny of documents and passport denials actually began under the George W. Bush administration. They continued through the early days of Obama’s presidency. The State Department is not providing current data on the denials, so it cannot be independently verified that they have surged under President Trump. But, several immigration attorneys paint the picture that it has.
One attorney told CNN he has dozens of such cases in court now.
Another attorney, Carlos Garcia, says he noticed a particular pattern recently.
“There’s no doubt that the Latino community is under attack and these tactics that the government is using throughout their different agencies are a direct attack on members of our community,” said Garcia.
The government says that their suspicion stems from people born with the help of midwives, some of whom in years past allegedly provided U.S. birth certificates to babies who were actually born in Mexico, outside of paperwork-heavy hospitals.
Midwives are a common option in south Texas for familes unable to afford the labor ward.
“It’s really difficult and try to prove that you were born. I’m American, I have my papers, I have voted,” said a man identified as ‘Arthur.’
Arthur requested anonymity because he fears retribution from immigration renewals. He told CNN he had his passport renewal request denied twice, once during the Obama administration and once again this year. He said he asked more specific questions this time around.
“They don’t trust that you’re a U.S. citizen,” said Arthur.
The State Department tells CNN that there has been no change in policy, adding the border region is “an area of the country where there has been a significant incidence of citizenship fraud. Midwives and other birth attendants, in addition to legitimately registering births in the United States, have accepted money and filed U.S. birth certificates actually born in Mexico.”
The department provided no concrete evidence to support the claim.
“I’ve had people walk into my office wearing a military uniform come in basically in tears telling me that a superior has indicated to them that perhaps they aren’t U.S. citizens. It’s definitely present, it’s definitely a lot,” said Garcia.
Now, many who bear the burden of proving their birthplace are in limbo.