Elementary school and birth certificate fraud

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It almost smacks of a s U. After Hernandez received his fourth letter from the government refusing to issue him a passport despite all the evidence he'd sent in, he jumped on board a class-action lawsuit filed in September by the American Civil Liberties Union against the State Department. And it's a little discriminatory.

Sure, there's the fraud they say happened with some midwives in the past, but they're holding me and others in my situation accountable for somebody else's mistake that had nothing to do with me. After walking around the lot where his midwife's home used to sit, Hernandez heads over to the neighbor's house. The man in the driveway introduces himself as Carlos Gil and says his wife happens to be related to Pedraza.

Gil says that after the midwife died, her home was abandoned and gutted by homeless people and drug users. When it was finally demolished, all of Pedraza's papers, proof that she delivered countless babies, had vanished. In many ways, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative was the spark that lit the fire. When the deadline was announced in March, the State Department was flooded with passport applications, many from residents along the border who previously never needed one. This has been going on for a long time. Birth certificates signed by midwives or filed more than a year after the birth are flagged and applicants are asked for additional proof, he says.

The trouble arises when the applicants then submit further evidence deemed insufficient by the passport office. I think it comes down to the applicants not feeling that their evidence is being considered properly. And to me that's incorrect. As a matter of law, there's a standard called 'preponderance of the evidence,' and it's not a discretionary thing to decide whether or not a person is a U.

This is the same standard used in civil courts, as opposed to the more severe "beyond a reasonable doubt" required in criminal courts. In this case, Brodyaga argues, it means that if an applicant has documentation he was born here, it must be accepted, barring more convincing proof that he was born elsewhere. Hernandez is one of eight plaintiffs in the ACLU lawsuit representing thousands of Hispanic Americans delivered by midwives along the border. The lawsuit alleges that the State Department is denying passports to applicants by using a subjective standard and that this discriminates against U.

The plaintiffs are asking Judge Randy Crane in McAllen federal court to prohibit the discriminatory standard. Officially, the State Department is not commenting, citing the pending litigation. In July, when the issue was first hitting the news, spokesman Cy Ferenchak of the U. Bureau of Consular Affairs told The Brownsville Herald , "Normally, a birth certificate is sufficient to prove citizenship. But because of a history of fraudulently filed reports on the Southwest border, we don't have much faith in the midwife-granted document.

A list last updated in by the then-named Immigration and Naturalization Service, now part of the Department of Homeland Security, and widely distributed among immigration attorneys in Texas, identifies nearly "suspicious" midwives, 74 of them convicted of fraud-related crimes from the late s through the s. David Hernandez's midwife appears on the document but is not listed as having a conviction. One of Brodyaga's frustrations is that the government will not say what makes a midwife suspicious if she does not have a conviction.

Passports: Location, Location". Former Brownsville city councilman Tony Zavaleta says this kind of vigilance is unnecessary today, but remembers widespread lawlessness before regulation. Brownsville passed the state's first city ordinance regarding midwives in , followed by statewide regulation in It was the Wild West, and so as you can imagine, there were numerous cases where people just signed birth certificates for money. Brodyaga argues, however, that suspicion is not proof.

I used to think they treated immigrants badly. Now they're treating U. Today, the midwife business is strictly regulated by the state. In order for Texas to accept a birth certificate signed by a midwife, she must be licensed and registered with the Texas Midwifery Board. Among its duties, the board sets standards for mandatory continuing education, investigates complaints and disciplines midwives found guilty of violations. When he became aware of the passport problems some of his parishioners were having, he called a meeting to discuss the issue.

They sat there for four hours telling these stories, everything from their child was selected to be in a chess tournament overseas and their parents couldn't get a passport to go, to a guy with a trucking business who was desperate and didn't know what to do. A lot more people are affected than I thought. When Mexican nationals, whether they were legal or illegal, would come to the United States, they'd see signs in almost every neighborhood that said, 'Se tendien partos,' or 'We deliver babies.

The passport issue is very shortsighted of [the government], not understanding how the culture and society works here along the border. Seifert points out that "it's not like the people here need a passport to go to France. Here, living near the border, it's everyday lives, it's jobs, it's family.

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It's sad to hear people say, 'Starting in June I'll never see my grandmother again. What's my crime?

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  5. I did everything right. I'm a citizen. Ortiz is trying to answer these questions and fix the problem. He's introduced a bill in Congress that would forbid passport officials from considering the applicant's race, ethnicity or ancestry, would make a state-authorized birth certificate sufficient evidence to get a passport and would require that any denial letter must state the reason for the ruling.

    Meanwhile, other Texas politicians in Washington are keeping mum on the issue. Republican Senator John Cornyn's press office did not respond to a request for comment.

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    She says she was born in San Benito in Now 62, she thought she was finished with her past. Her application was denied. More surprised than concerned, Ramirez went about trying to find additional documentation. She came up empty. Her parents, witnesses to her birth, have died.

    School records do not exist because she did not go to school.


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    The only supporting U. In hindsight, Ramirez shouldn't have been surprised that her passport application didn't initially sail through. Her birth certificate is riddled with red flags: She wasn't delivered in a hospital; the only signatures on the birth certificate are of her father and a man she doesn't know; and it was filed late — around the same time she was baptized — more than three years after her birth date.

    Ramirez never had any reason to doubt that she was born in Texas. But the State Department wrote her a letter in August saying Mexican records show that someone with Ramirez's name and her parents' common surnames Jose Perez and Petra Hernandez was born in Mexico one year to the day before the date stamped on her U. She didn't know what to do or think. She was losing hope and became afraid. Problems similar to Ramirez's and Hernandez's are popping up all over the country. Newspapers from Oregon to Florida report stories of lawsuits and angry, confused passport applicants.

    The one thing in common: They were all born in Texas. This, however, is where Ramirez's story differs from those of many others trying to get passports. In February, the State Department notified the Texas Department of State Health Services not to issue Ramirez any copies of her birth certificate due to the fact, they said, that she had an earlier birth certificate on file in Mexico. The feds also refused to send Ramirez back the copy she'd sent them to get her passport.

    Her only choice was to request a hearing with Texas officials to try to prove her birth certificate was legitimate. The state's Vital Statistics unit held the hearing in May. Ramirez testified that she could not produce very much evidence more than 60 years after the fact, but did provide her baptismal certificate; her Mexico marriage record, which lists her place of birth as the United States; and U. According to state hearing officer Dan Meador's findings, "As the earlier record, the Mexican [birth certificate] is entitled to a presumption that it is the more correct record, absent other evidence.

    Other evidence [submitted, however] Relieved, Ramirez reapplied for her passport, confident of the results after her victory in Austin. But no. The State Department's passport division denied her again.

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    Ramirez hired an immigration attorney. She is now suing the State Department in Minnesota federal court to get her passport. I don't think anyone has a copy of it. It's just referenced in their letter and that's it. Goldenberg is also arguing that the State Department is unlawfully questioning the validity of state-issued documents.

    Doe , S.