Trump Regime Questions Citizenship of Latinx Citizens

In March of last year, I flagged that the Trump administration was signalling they would soon come after documented immigrants. As you may recall, it was something Steve Bannon said that raised the hairs on the back of my neck: "Don't we have a problem with legal immigration? Twenty percent of this country is immigrants. Is that not the beating heart of this problem?"

In the intervening year, Trump has empowered and institutionalized a nativist, white supremacist, anti-immigrant agenda that I have long been warning will underwrite a targeting of U.S. citizens.

And here we are.

Kevin Sieff at the Washington Post: U.S. Is Denying Passports to Americans Along the Border, Throwing Their Citizenship into Question.
On paper, he's a devoted U.S. citizen.

His official American birth certificate shows he was delivered by a midwife in Brownsville, at the southern tip of Texas. He spent his life wearing American uniforms: three years as a private in the Army, then as a cadet in the Border Patrol, and now as a state prison guard.

But when Juan, 40, applied to renew his U.S. passport this year, the government's response floored him. In a letter, the State Department said it didn't believe he was an American citizen.

As he would later learn, Juan is one of a growing number of people whose official birth records show they were born in the United States but who are now being denied passports — their citizenship suddenly thrown into question. The Trump administration is accusing hundreds, and possibly thousands, of Hispanics along the border of using fraudulent birth certificates since they were babies, and it is undertaking a widespread crackdown.

In a statement, the State Department said that it "has not changed policy or practice regarding the adjudication of passport applications," adding that "the U.S.-Mexico border region happens to be an area of the country where there has been a significant incidence of citizenship fraud."
"Significant incidence" is a relative term. It is a significant incidence compared to other parts of the country, where citizenship fraud is vanishly rare. But it is not objectively significant, meaning that it is not so widespread that it justifies universal suspicion.

The burden of this suspicion is placed on the person whose citizenship is being questioned to prove their citizenship — which isn't an easy task.
When Juan, the former soldier, received a letter from the State Department telling him it wasn't convinced that he was a U.S. citizen, it requested a range of obscure documents — evidence of his mother's prenatal care, his baptismal certificate, rental agreements from when he was a baby.

He managed to find some of those documents but weeks later received another denial. In a letter, the government said the information "did not establish your birth in the United States."
There are, of course, countless people who do not have access to any such documentation; who could not possibly prove that they were born in the United States, except for their birth certificate. If the government can challenge the veracity of a birth certificate without evidence of its falsification, lots of people are going to be left in a legal limbo which could eventually result in their legal citizenship being stripped from them, simply because they are unable to establish it to satisfy a government whose explicit objective is to challenge it.

At the moment, this nativist trash is being directed at Latinx people born along the southern border at a time in which midwives sometimes created fake birth certificates to credential babies as U.S. citizens. We have no earthly reason to believe that the Trump Regime won't expand this sickening campaign to any population they don't like.

We have every reason to believe that this nativist authoritarian president will come after anyone he feels doesn't belong here — like athletes who protest during the national anthem — and demand "proof" of one's citizenship, with the adequacy of that proof determined by the very people who are demanding it for sinister reasons.

This is deeply frightening. Most of all because this march of vile Othering continues apace, with most of this nation's citizens totally unaware of what's happening now — and what's coming, swelling in the nurturing incubator of their inattention.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus