Lifelong U.S. Citizens Who Are Hispanic Are Now Being Denied Passports

by Christina Marfice
Image via vlana / Getty Images

The government wants proof that Hispanic passport applicants are citizens, and a birth certificate isn’t enough

What would you do if the government suddenly questioned whether you were actually a U.S. citizen? How would you prove it? You would produce your birth certificate, which shows you were born in a U.S. state, right? But what if the government then told you that wasn’t enough? What then? How do you prove something that should be so simple?

That’s a legitimate question for Hispanic U.S. citizens along the country’s southern border. They are now being denied passports by the government under the Trump administration, told their birth certificates aren’t enough to prove they are legitimate citizens.

A terrifying Washington Post investigation follows 40-year-old Juan, who was born in South Texas, served in the Army and the Border Patrol, and now works as a prison guard. He tried to renew his passport this year and was told he couldn’t. The U.S. government doesn’t believe he was a citizen and wants him to prove it. After 40 years of living in this country, of serving its military, this is being questioned because of the color of his skin. There is no other possible reason.

Oh, and Juan spoke to the Post on the condition that his last name not be used because he’s afraid of being deported. A 40-year U.S. citizen and veteran of the U.S. Army. Let that sink in.

According to immigration attorneys interviewed for the story, Juan’s fear isn’t alarmist. Lawyers report seeing suddenly large numbers of passport applicants being denied despite having birth certificates. They report citizens leaving the U.S. and having their passports suddenly revoked when they try to return. They report legitimate U.S. citizens with birth certificates and passports detained at the border and sent to detention centers to face deportation proceedings. They report clients who had ICE agents show up suddenly at their homes and take their passports from them.

Those whose citizenship is thrown into question are told to produce obscure documents, including “evidence of [their] mother’s prenatal care, baptismal certificate, rental agreements from when [they were] a baby.” Some, like Juan, manage to find those documents. Juan was again denied a passport anyway.

This is the America we now live in. First Trump came for the undocumented immigrants. Then he came for the legal asylum seekers. Now, he’s coming for citizens who have the “wrong” color skin.

It’s horrifying how this administration continues to chip away at the humanity of people. Apparently, Trump’s America is one with no Hispanic people at all, even those who are citizens who have lived here all their lives. After this, it’s terrifying to think what the next step may be to get more of them out. But the bottom line is that apparently no one of Hispanic heritage is safe here. Are we great again yet?