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Hullabaloo


Thursday, August 30, 2018

 

Be vewy, vewy quiet, he's hunting witches

by Tom Sullivan

The man whose smallish fingers cannot get through 24 hours without shouting "Witch Hunt!" into his insecure phone is engaged in several. And now another one.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis last year issued a directive for additional background checks for non-citizen troops and extended the active duty time required before they were eligible to apply for naturalization. Applications dropped 65 percent.

Earlier this summer, news broke that the sitting president had tasked U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director L. Francis Cissna with tracking down and "denaturalizing" American citizens suspected of falsifying their citizenship applications.

In July, AP broke news that the Army had begun discharging foreign-born troops after promising them "expedited naturalization" for service. Those with expired visas now risk deportation.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has detained hundreds of U.S. citizens an average of 180 days, a Northwest University study found last August.

The Washington Post reports today the State Department is denying passports to Americans born along the Texas-Mexico border. Government officials question their citizenship based on suspicion that decades ago midwives may have falsified the birth documents of newborns:

The government alleges that from the 1950s through the 1990s, some midwives and physicians along the Texas-Mexico border provided U.S. birth certificates to babies who were actually born in Mexico. In a series of federal court cases in the 1990s, several birth attendants admitted to providing fraudulent documents.

Based on those suspicions, the State Department during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations denied passports to people who were delivered by midwives in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley. The use of midwives is a long-standing tradition in the region, in part because of the cost of hospital care.

The same midwives who provided fraudulent birth certificates also delivered thousands of babies legally in the United States. It has proved nearly impossible to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate documents, all of them officially issued by the state of Texas decades ago.
After an ACLU lawsuit settled in 2009, passport denials declined. Until now:
Attorneys say these cases, where the government’s doubts about an official birth certificate lead to immigration detention, are increasingly common. “I’ve had probably 20 people who have been sent to the detention center — U.S. citizens,” said Jaime Diez, an attorney in Brownsville.

Diez represents dozens of U.S. citizens who were denied their passports or had their passports suddenly revoked. Among them are soldiers and Border Patrol agents. In some cases, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have arrived at his clients’ homes without notice and taken passports away.
Other have had theirs confiscated at the border on reentering the United States, leaving them in "legal limbo."

An immigration attorney cited in the Post story represents twin bothers in their 60s. They sought legal help after receiving a disturbing letter in the mail:
They had been scheduled for an appointment at the local U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office to provide proof that they were really born on American soil.

They had been U.S. citizens since their birth over six decades ago. They had no arrests or convictions. They had faithfully paid their taxes each year and owned homes. They were married with adult children.

They now faced possible deportation.

The problem?

They were born in a Texas border town with the assistance of a midwife.
After the death of gynecologist Jorge Treviño, celebrated for having delivered 15,000 babies in the border region, the government acquired "an affidavit from an unnamed Mexican doctor" alleging Treviño had provided at least one U.S. birth certificate for a child born in Mexico. Now those 15,000 and hundreds of others delivered by area midwives are under the Trump administration's microscope.

Diez tells the Post hundreds in the region have had passports denied or revoked, almost all of them Hispanic.

The president's lawyer asserts “truth isn't truth.” His administration now denies the validity of official government records establishing the citizenship of Americans it disfavors. It requests from people like the twins obscure documentation — evidence of mothers’ prenatal care, baptismal certificates, rental agreements from when they were infants. And then rejects that. They themselves and thousands like them have done no wrong except be born in the wrong skin to the wrong parents.

It has happened here.

* * * * * * * * *

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