Trump Administration Accuses Hundreds of Hispanics of Faking Citizenship

A Border Patrol agent checks vehicles on June 1, 2010, near Sasabe, Arizona. The Trump administration has accused hundreds of Hispanic people living along the U.S.-Mexico border of having fake birth certificates and revoked some of their passports, according to The Washington Post. Scott Olson/Getty

The Trump administration has reportedly accused hundreds of Hispanic people living along the U.S.-Mexico border of having fake birth certificates and revoked some of their passports.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that hundreds of people have been accused of being in possession of fraudulent birth certificates, with some being arrested and jailed in detention facilities as they await immigration proceedings, while others have had their passports revoked after trying to re-enter the U.S. from Mexico.

The newspaper reported that the government has also increased its rejections of passport applications for people it suspects of having fraudulent birth certificates.

"We're seeing these kind of cases skyrocketing," Jennifer Correro, an attorney in Houston who says she is defending dozens of people who have seen their passport applications rejected, told the Post.

In response to the report, a State Department official told The Hill that "the U.S.-Mexico border region happens to be an area of the country where there has been a significant incidence of citizenship fraud."

"Individuals who are unable to demonstrate that they were born in the United States are denied issuance of a passport," the official said. "The Department's determination in such cases affects only the passport, and not citizenship status, of the applicant."

The official also alleged that fraud is sometimes perpetrated by midwives and other birth attendants who sell legal birth certificates to children born in Mexico.

"This fraud is often documented through convictions, plea agreements, and confessions by midwives, mothers, and other family members," the official said.

The Post reported that under both the Obama and Bush administrations, the State Department investigated people who had been delivered by midwives in Texas's Rio Grande Valley after a midwife pleaded guilty to selling U.S. birth certificates to children born in Mexico.

Officials reportedly struggled to tell the difference between legitimate and illegitimate passports, with all of the documents having been officially issued by the state of Texas.

In the wake of the revelation, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) accused the State Department of "violating the due process and equal protection rights of virtually all midwife-delivered U.S. citizens living in the southern border region" by forcing them to provide an "excessive number of documents normally not required to prove their citizenship."

In 2009, the State Department agreed to implement new procedures to ensure "fair and prompt" review of U.S. passport applications by Mexican Americans whose births were carried out by midwives as part of a settlement in a class action lawsuit filed by the ACLU.

However, under the Trump administration, Hispanic people are reportedly facing increased scrutiny at the border once again.

While the State Department has not said how many passport applications it has denied to people living along the U.S.-Mexico border over concerns around fraudulent birth certificates, the Post reported that the number of people accused of having fake documents could be in the hundreds, if not in the thousands.