The ACLU filed a class-action lawsuit Tuesday against the US Department of State for refusing to issue passports to US citizens born by midwives along the US-Mexico border. An ACLU press release explains, “the lawsuit charges that the State Department categorically questions the citizenship of virtually all midwife-delivered Mexican-Americans born in southern border states” by forcing applicants to provide excessive documentation while applying for passports.
According to the Washington Post, dozens of midwives in southern Texas have been convicted of issuing fraudulent birth certificates since the late 1960s. However, the children of poor women without access to hospitals are disproportionately questioned about the validity of their birth certificates when seeking passports.
This new lawsuit is particularly timely because the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which will require a passport to cross the US-Mexico border, will be enacted in June 2009. In a press release, ACLU Racial Justice Program Staff Attorney Vanita Gupta said, “the US government has effectively reduced a whole swath of the population to second class citizenship because of their last names and because they happened to be born at home with a midwife.”