(RNN) - The State Department is denying birth certificates, calling into question the citizenship of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people born along the border.
The Trump administration is accusing them of using fraudulent birth certificates since infancy, the Washington Post said.
These people have been caught in legal limbo, with some with legal birth certificates being thrown into detention centers and threatened with deportation.
In some cases, Immigration and Customs Enforcement have shown up unannounced at people's homes and taken away passports.
Others have been stuck in Mexico with their passports revoked, not allowed to re-enter the U.S.
In one case cited by the Post, a 40-year-old Army veteran was denied a passport despite providing some of the obscure supplemental information the State Department asked for, including "evidence of his mother’s prenatal care, his baptismal certificate, rental agreements from when he was a baby."
Immigration attorneys said cases of passport troubles are increasing.
The State Department told the Post it hasn't changed its policy on passports. It said people "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 government accused some health professionals of falsifying birth records in south Texas from the 1950s to the 1990s.
Health officials along the border, including midwives, admitted in the 1990s to taking money to produce falsified birth certificates for babies who were born in Mexico. Those health officials also oversaw the births of thousands of babies that were born in the U.S.
It's impossible to distinguish between fraudulent and legitimate birth certificates from that time period, according to immigration attorney Carlos Bataria.
During the administration of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the government denied passports to Mexican-Americans along the border who were delivered by midwives, but the practice stopped after a 2009 ACLU court case.
"Citizens will no longer be denied a passport solely because of their race, ancestry or because they happened to be born at home with a midwife," said Vanita Gupta, an ACLU attorney who worked on the case along with the group's Immigrants' Rights Project.
It appears the State Department under the Trump administration has resumed the practice - questioning the citizenship of thousands whose births were attended by health professionals accused of falsifying documents, including some born in hospitals.
The State Department lists a number of reasons a person may be denied a passport, including being in arrears paying child support, being the subject of an extradition request or being considered a security risk.
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