Researched by Carlos Maldanado and Jennifer Donahue
US citizens living on and around the U.S.-Mexico border are plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit alleging that, by denying them passports, the U.S. State Department is engaging in racial discrimination. Plaintiffs say that the U.S. government is denying them passports because they are persons of Mexican and Latino descent whose births were assisted by parteras, or midwives. One plaintiff, Texas native David Hernandez, a decorated US Army veteran who served his country in different parts of the world says, “We were all born here. We’re all citizens. The only difference is that we’re Hispanic, we grew up poor and we happened not to be born in a hospital. My mother had to pay a partera $40 instead.” Lawyers for the plaintiffs say they have documented a systematic pattern of racial discrimination among hundreds, perhaps thousands of US citizens of Mexican descent who applied for passports and were subjected to unreasonable and arbitrary demands for multitudes of often no-longer-existing documents. Although midwifery is a long-held tradition among whites, blacks and others living in Appalachia, Texas, and other parts of the United States where hospital-assisted birth is unaffordable or unavailable, the denial of passports is only taking place among people of Mexican descent.
“Passports Denied: Mexican Americans Can’t Travel” Roberto Lavato, New American Media, 9/25/2008 http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2008/09/25-6