By Bob Quasius, Cafe con Leche Republicans
Marshall, MN – National pro-immigrant group Cafe Con Leche Republicans today blasted the Obama administration for stripping U.S. Citizens of their citizenship under the pretext of fighting birth certificate fraud. Overzealous officials from the Department of Homeland Security and State Department are refusing to issue U.S. passports and in some cases have cancelled passports for U.S. Citizens who were birthed by midwives. One U.S. Citizen was trapped in Mexico for two years when his U.S. passport was confiscated by CBP in Laredo, following a visit with his dying Grandmother in Mexico. The alleged basis was a typographical error in his birth registration card, supposedly showing that he had been registered a few days before he was born. Another U.S. citizen had his passport voided during a visit to Mexico, resulting in his inability to return home for many months while litigation was pending. Many others have experienced similar problems.
Also, many of these U.S. Citizens have been detained for hours, sometimes days, by agents of Customs and Border Protection and pressured into signing false statements admitting they were born in Mexico, and then returned to Mexico, where it is very difficult, if not impossible, for them to prove their U.S. citizenship. According to the Government, even people with facially valid U.S. passports are not entitled to counsel when stopped at the border, or challenged at a U.S. Consulate abroad, unless and until criminal or immigration charges have been filed. Unlike criminal cases, ICE and CBP have broad discretion to detain suspected undocumented immigrants, with no right to bond. Often these citizens have limited English proficiency and do not understand legalese, and are pressured or tricked into signing these untrue statements to get out of detention, not realizing they will be deported and potentially barred for life from the nation where they were born and spent most or all their lives. This reminds us of pre-Miranda days when police often detained suspects for hours, perhaps days, pressuring them until they signed confessions.
This problem is especially severe for the elderly on fixed incomes and the mentally disabled, who often do not comprehend the complex legal issues involved with immigration law, or simply lack the estimated $5,000 to $15,000 to bring a legal case to defend their citizenship in court. Local immigration attorneys claim there are now over 500, and possibly as many as 1,000 Latino U.S. passport applications were denied, and many more Latinos likely have not applied for passports due to the issue. Local immigration attorneys are seeking class action certification in pending legal cases due to the thousands of citizens affected by this travesty of justice.
The South Texas counties affected by this travesty of justice are 90% Latino. 44 States allow midwives to create documentation that result in issuance of birth certificates, yet amazingly this intense level of scrutiny only seems to be applied in predominately Latino communities.
There have been isolated instances of a few Rio Grande Valley midwives issuing false documents for births that actually took place in Mexico. However, the reaction from the Bush and Obama administrations is symptomatic of the ‘enforcement on steroids’ climate promoted by DHS under the leadership of Janet Napolitano in response to heavy public pressure to “secure the borders” before true immigration reform can be addressed . Not surprisingly, a recent report found 3,600 U.S. Citizens had been arrested and detained by ICE under the Secure Communities Program, 93% of those detained under Secure Communities are Latino versus 78% of the undocumented population, and non-criminal arrests are approaching 50%, a strong indication that Latinos stopped for traffic or other minor infractions are being arrested rather than cited in order to funnel them through jail house screening.
We call on the Obama administration to cease and desist from this appalling practice of citizenship stripping, and we call for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to conduct a complete and thorough investigation and hold those responsible accountable.
Cafe con Leche Republicans is a diverse group of Republicans who believe America and the GOP in particular need to become much more welcoming to immigrants. The current climate for all immigrants is becoming more hostile by the day, which is not healthy for anybody. We believe the GOP is missing an opportunity to attract many conservative or moderate voters who are immigrants or members of groups with a high percentage of immigrants, such as Hispanics and Asians.
[Photo by DonkeyHotey]