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A disturbing story in the Washington Post story, entitled “U.S. is denying passports to Americans along the border, throwing their citizenship into question,” highlights a new front in the Trump administration’s efforts to “other” people of color and immigrants, even if they are U.S. citizens.
As Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz assessed in response, “They are coming after Americans now. I repeat, they are coming after Americans now. We cannot assume that they feel constrained by law or morality.”
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
Who is next? The Trump administration is pursuing a reckless strategy. They are using the full force and power of the government to attack the very foundation of our nation: American citizenship. What can stop Trump and his team? The people, the courts and the Congress. The people are doing their job; the lower courts are doing their job; the Republican Congress is not. For our constitutional system of checks and balances to work, we need new leaders in Congress who are prepared to defend our democracy, not just their party boss.
Below, we excerpt key portions of the Washington Post story by Kevin Sieff:
On paper, he’s a devoted U.S. citizen. His official American birth certificate shows he was delivered by a midwife in Brownsville, at the southern tip of Texas. He spent his life wearing American uniforms: three years as a private in the Army, then as a cadet in the Border Patrol and now as a state prison guard.
But when Juan, 40, applied to renew his U.S. passport this year, the government’s response floored him. In a letter, the State Department said it didn’t believe he was an American citizen.
As he would later learn, Juan is one of a growing number of people whose official birth records show they were born in the United States but who are now being denied passports — their citizenship suddenly thrown into question. 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.
…under President Trump, the passport denials and revocations appear to be surging, becoming part of a broader interrogation into the citizenship of people who have lived, voted and worked in the United States for their entire lives.
“We’re seeing these kind of cases skyrocketing,” said Jennifer Correro, an attorney in Houston who is defending dozens of people who have been denied passports.
In its statement, the State Department said that 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 statement said.
When Juan, the former soldier, received a letter from the State Department telling him it wasn’t convinced that he was a U.S. citizen, it requested a range of obscure documents — evidence of his mother’s prenatal care, his baptismal certificate, rental agreements from when he was a baby.
He managed to find some of those documents but weeks later received another denial. In a letter, the government said the information “did not establish your birth in the United States.
…It’s difficult to know where the crackdown fits into the Trump administration’s broader efforts to reduce legal and illegal immigration. Over the past year, it has thrown legal permanent residents out of the military and formed a denaturalization task force that tries to identify people who might have lied on decades-old citizenship applications.
Now, the administration appears to be taking aim at a broad group of Americans along the stretch of the border where Trump has promised to build his wall, where he directed the deployment of National Guardsmen, and where the majority of cases in which children were separated from their parents during the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy occurred.