Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

The U.S. State Department has accused hundreds of Latino citizens who live near the U.S.-Mexico border of having fraudulent birth certificates. Some have been refused reentry into the U.S. after traveling in Mexico, with officials accusing them of actually being Mexican citizens. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

'Ethnic Cleansing by Bureaucracy': Trump Administration Denying Passports, Accusing Latino Citizens of Having Fake Birth Certificates

"First vilification...Escalated raids and border militarization. Family separations...Now, mass revocations of citizenship."

Julia Conley

Offering the latest proof that its assault on immigrants' rights is based in racism rather than a concern for citizens' safety, the Trump administration has accused hundreds—if not thousands—of Latino Americans of having fraudulent birth certificates and has refused to issue passports to many, while detaining and threatening deportation for others.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that hundreds of Latinos living near the U.S.-Mexico border have been denied passports and passport renewals and have been refused reentry into the U.S. after traveling south of the border, with the State Department alleging that they had been born outside the U.S. even though they have American birth certificates.

One citizen was detained for three days after presenting his passport while attempting to re-enter the U.S. from Mexico. A deportation hearing is scheduled for 2019. Another was denied a passport renewal and asked to provide his parents' rental agreement from when he was a baby and evidence of his mother's prenatal care to prove his citizenship—but was again denied after he sent the documentation to the State Department.

The department claims South Texas is rife with residents who have been posing as U.S. citizens since they were babies, issuing a statement to the Post that there is a "significant number of fraudulent citizens along border."

"I don't think this piece is getting the freakout it deserves." —Kelly Hayes, journalistAs evidence, the Trump administration has pointed to decades-old federal cases in which midwives in the region admitted to selling U.S. birth certificates to some families who needed citizenship—but it has no proof that those who have been targeted are not U.S. citizens.

Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama also denied passports to people who had been born in the Rio Grande Valley, for the same reason. But passport denials were nearly eliminated after 2009, when the ACLU challenged the practice.

Now, according to attorneys in South Texas, cases of the State Department questioning Hispanics' citizenship have gone up again.

"We're seeing these kind of cases skyrocketing," Jennifer Correro, an attorney in Houston, told the Post.

On social media, Trump critics compared the State Department's practice to "ethnic cleansing" and expressed concern that it could fly under the radar in a country overwhelmed by President Donald Trump's ongoing legal battles, attacks on the press, potential confirmation of a second anti-choice Supreme Court justice, and dozens of other causes for outrage.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Dems to Biden: Overhaul Drone Program That Has Killed Thousands of Civilians

"In too many instances, U.S. drone strikes have instead led to unintended and deadly consequences—killing civilians and increasing anger towards the United States."

Brett Wilkins ·


War With Russia Over Ukraine 'Last Thing' US Needs, Say Progressives

Urging diplomacy over violence, foreign policy experts say "Biden's failure to acknowledge Russia's legitimate security concerns has led to the present impasse."

Jessica Corbett ·


Asked About Black Voters, McConnell Says Quiet, Racist Part Very Loud

"The othering of Americans who aren't white was never a 'quiet part,'" said Rep. Ilhan Omar, "it has always been loud and painful for everyone who has experienced it."

Brett Wilkins ·


'A Basic Human Right': Bowman, Markey Unveil Affordable Energy Bill

Sen. Ed Markey called the proposal "the ambitious and comprehensive legislation we need to help ensure the health and safety of American families and support a just transition away from fossil fuel consumption."

Julia Conley ·


Heavily Polluted Louisiana Community Asks EPA to Step In

"Louisiana has failed to protect fenceline communities, including St. John residents, from the harms of highly polluting facilities," said one local advocate.

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo