The U.S. State Department is targeting American citizens along the border, denying and revoking passports


The Trump administration is taking aim at Texas, a southern border state, by calling into question the validity of hundreds of U.S.-born individual’s citizenship, leading to denial of passports and in some cases even confiscating them. Some passport applicants with United States birth certificates are being jailed in detention centers while awaiting potential deportation, while others currently visiting Mexico are unable to re-enter the U.S. where they live and work.

Of the hundreds being affected is Juan, who served in the United States army, served as a cadet in Border Patrol, and is now working as a prison guard. When he recently sought to renew his passport, he received a letter from the State Department questioning his American citizenship.  They asked for further documentation, some decades-old. Once he provided them, to his bewilderment he was still told that it was insufficient. The government argued that he did not “establish [his] birth in the United States.”

For its part, the State Department claims that there are many people who fraudulently received their U.S. citizenship, either deliberately or through the dubious creation of Texas state birth certificates by midwives along the border. Some similar denials were issued under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, but the issue was seemingly halted in 2009 after an ACLU lawsuit. Under President Trump, however, there is a resurgence of this practice, with a broader net and an eager enforcement wing.

The current president has continually called into question the American-ness of Hispanic people in particular, not to mention his baseless claims that millions of non-citizens voted in the 2016 election. It appears several of his conspiracy theories conveniently converge in this practice. The people targeted can face thousands of dollars in legal fees to protect their rights, and the Washington Post found that they typically win their cases, which demonstrates the shallowness of the policy.

For more on the policy and personal stories of its targets, please see: