Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Causes > Social Justice > Federal officials deny passports to midwife-born Mexican Americans along Texas-Mexico border

Federal officials deny passports to midwife-born Mexican Americans along Texas-Mexico border

LatinaLista — The stories started trickling over the community listserve a few weeks ago. A woman whose mother was born in 1951 along the Texas-Mexico border by a midwife was having trouble getting a passport.
It seems passport officials didn’t believe she was an American citizen even though the family supplied documents like records of her elementary school, certificate of Baptism, Death Certificates of both parents, and the property listed under the woman’s father’s name in Raymondville Texas. The officials said that the midwife listed on the birth certificate couldn’t possibly have assisted in her birth (how they know, I’m not sure) but the family basically feels the government is accusing the mother of lying about being a citizen.

Mireya Salgado, a Porter High School teacher, looks at her birth certificate as she sits on a curb Friday on Shary Avenue, near where she was born more than five decades ago.
(Source: Brad Doherty/The Brownsville Herald)

So now, the family has to supply records of any brothers and sisters who attended schools, employment history of both parents (especially the woman’s mother), between 1950-1951. The only trouble, and which was quite common in the 1950s, is that the woman’s mother didn’t work outside the house and her father was a laborer.
Before we could shake our heads in sympathy with this family for the extra 10 miles the government was making this family go just to prove citizenship, there surfaced yet more stories — all the same.
The government is discounting the midwife births of Mexican-American children born along the Texas-Mexico border.

According to a Brownsville Herald report, thousands of Rio Grande Valley residents are being denied a passport because the federal government doesn’t believe they were born on this side of the border.
It doesn’t matter if they’ve lived all their lives in the United States (sound familiar?) or served in the military or are paying back their community through their leadership and involvement, the government now says they can’t be sure if these children, who are now in their late 40s and 50s, are truly Americans.
All of this came about because it’s now necessary to carry a passport when you’re just crossing the border to visit family, who may just live a few miles down the road, in Mexico. The government is now issuing passport cards for these short trips by car or foot and naturally everyone is applying who lives along the border.
The passport cards are cheaper than the regular passport and are more handy to carry since they’re the size of a driver’s license and can easily fit into a wallet.
Well, because everyone now needs one just to go a few miles, the government is saying that they don’t have “faith” in midwife granted birth certificates given the history of fraudulent birth certificates in the region.

The INS’ suspicions about midwife-delivered births are fed by fraudulent documents tied to those sort of births. From 1960 to 2008, more than 75 South Texas midwives were convicted of signing birth certificates for children they did not deliver. Determining which midwife-granted birth certificates are false is a near-impossible task. Convicted midwives were never asked to reveal which children they delivered, and which paid for fraudulent documentation.
A list compiled by INS revealed that of the nearly 250 midwives who practiced in South Texas between 1961 and 1996, 60 were convicted of fraudulent crimes. Since 1999, an additional 19 current and former South Texas midwives were also convicted.

So after 40-some odd years, the government is telling these people that until proven otherwise, they’re not citizens?
Needless to say, this kind of news is traumatizing (again a familiar story) hardworking people who know they were either born legitimately on this side of the border or have lived their lives in good faith believing they were, but are now having a hard time proving it to government officials.
According to the Texas Midwifery Board, the use of midwives was very common in Texas at one time. Back in 1925, more than 50 percent of the babies were born with the help of midwives. The Texas-Mexico border region has always been known for its poverty and so it’s not hard to believe that the practice was used heavily in the 1940s, 50, 60s and even early 70s.
Though the Texas border region had a high concentration of Latinos living there, it’s also known that discrimination and separate drinking fountains existed in this part of the country too for Latinos.
Instead of making it so difficult for these people to prove their citizenship, because many times, especially for the older people, midwives and parents have died and old neighborhoods disappeared, the government should take into account other factors that make it easier to prove their citizenship — school records, shot records, military service, how far a credit history extends – not whether it’s good or bad, etc.
It’s almost understandable for the government to take this action on those born in the 1990s but in the 50s and 60s?
It seems a bit overzealous at this stage of the game and is just yet one more example of how Latino citizens are getting caught up in the absurdity of what the federal government claims is safeguarding national security.

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  • Irma
    July 23, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    Now what does Barak Obama have to say about this?

  • Julie Pippert
    July 23, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    Among the very many troubling aspects of this, the most troubling to my Constitutional heart is the presumption of guilt until proven innocent. Although the saying goes that it’s nearly impossible to prove a negative, it seems, in fact, that it’s becoming impossible to DISprove a negative these days. Great article.

  • adriana
    July 24, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    What does Hillary Clinton have to say about this? Or better yet, what does John McCain have to say about it?
    Midwives have been delivering babies in Latino communities for generations. My own father was born on a ranch. This is simply appalling that these people are having to prove their citizenship this way. While appealing to presidential candidates at the very top level of government might not be the best approach during a busy election season… I would wonder what the Latinos in Congress who represent Texas are doing about this. What are Charlie Gonzalez, Ciro Rodriguez, Silvestre Reyes, Henry Cuellar, and Ruben Hinojosa doing to correct this or address this issue with the local agencies that issue birth certificates? This is an issue that these men could take decisive leadership on.

  • Horace
    July 26, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    “… records, shot records, military service, how far a credit history extends – not whether it’s good or bad, etc.”
    What nonsense. School records, shot records and credit history, whether good or bad are hardly proof of citizenship, as illegal aliens often have all of these. And what’s a good or bad credit history, or its length have to do with establishing citizenship? Creditors have been indescriminately issuing credit cards with the only qualification being that the holder has a heartbeat and respiration. On the other hand, military personnel are required to pass background checks that reveal citizenship status. Get real.

  • Irma
    July 29, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    I have no idea what Hilary Clinton has to say about this issue. But, it doesnt matter to me, since she is no longer a candidate for President. I am interested in what McCain and Obama have to say about this issue – they will be on the ballot in November. I am also interested in their positions on the FENCE. Hilary revised her
    view on the Fence after visiting South Texas during the Texas Primary. Obama
    and McCain have not yet changed their previous positions on the FENCE.
    Please leave Hlary out of it – she is no longer running for President.

  • Silvano Garcia
    August 28, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    I got the same problem i was delivered in Houston by a mid wife and i just tried to get my passport for the second time and i coundt get it. i’m jail in my own country!

  • Norma
    September 1, 2008 at 2:02 am

    I’am trying to get my passport for the second time this year now the passport place wants me to get my mom’s crossing border card since 1964. I want to know what is McCain and Obama going to do about all of us born with midwives?

  • Raulf323
    September 26, 2008 at 5:41 am

    Help?? my stepdaughter is in the same situation any advise dont have money for attroney?

  • garzag
    April 22, 2009 at 12:12 am

    My husband was born in Corpus Christi (1951), attended school there and graduated from high school and has paid taxes etc all his life but is being denied a passport because he was delivered by a midwife. He has always considered himself a US citizen and his mother was born in US as well but he cannot get his passport. Help…

  • The Engineer
    May 19, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    I did apply for my passport in early March and I still haven’t received it…
    I am a US-Citizen and I was born by a midwife in south part of texas due to the lack of economical resources…
    This is just discriminatory…
    If they’ve been saying that there were a lot of fraudulent midwives, and that this is the main reason about why they are denying passports to US-Citizens of mexican heritage…
    Question? are you blamming the people who were born by a midwife, or are you blamming the midwives which are the ones who delivered them and are suspicious of fraudulent births…
    There are too many people who were born by a midwife in the early 60’s – 80’s due to the lack of economical resources as well as for the lack of medical services in that time…
    There is no reason I believe to deny a passport to US-Citizens who were born by a midwife… Even if the person comes from a mexican family or either if he or she did expend most of his or her time with their families outside the country… the fact is that we Americans, deserve the right to live free and to have a fair justice… to have the freedom to decide where to go, to eat, to travel, etc…
    It is not a concern to the US-Citizen who was born by a midwife, it is a concern to the midwives who made fraudulent actions… Really and truly, even if they are suspicious of such actions, the ones who supposed to be out of the country are the ones who made such illegal actions…
    I firmly believe that NOW… all US-Citizens deserve a passport… and there is no justification or enough reason to deny it, because “A PERSON REMAINS INNOCENT, UNTIL THE AUTHORITIES PROVE HE/SHE IS NOT”…

  • Blanca
    May 27, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    I am dealing with the same
    problem as everyone else.
    My argument is that why was my husband able to get his alien residence card because of my citizenship.No
    one questioned my citizenship
    then.Please some help US.

  • Rafael Mena
    June 6, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    There are many of us dealing with this matter and the Department of State and US do not give a damn about this issue, they have some idiotic belief that dealing with this matter by denying the passports they will gain some respect back, the problem here is that various News TV shows have been able to get fake passports using dead people’s IDs and birth certificates, this still continues to happen but their focus is on us and the midwifes, I served in the US Army I work for the State of Texas both of these governmental institutions recognize my Birth Certificate as true and correct, It was OK for me to serve in IRAQ and for me to be a public servant, but it is not OK for me to have a passport. I have resubmitted my information to the deparment of state for the FOURTH time, this time I have contacted the ACLU (currently suing the Department of State) and asked for their assistance, I have also granted permission to Congressman Solomon P. Ortiz to act on my behalf persuade the Department of State into givin me a passport, he is helping many in my position and addressing this issue with Hillary Clinton, there is a Bill that he is intruducing to the house of representatives to have this matter changed and resolved immediately, he needs our help the more of us that get together and fight this problem the more powerful his Bill becomes, if you want to join the ACLU
    If you want to contact Congressman Solomon Ortiz
    Capitol Hill
    2110 Rayburn HOB
    Washington, D.C. 20515
    Ph: 202-225-7742 Fx:202-226-1134
    3649 Leopard, Suite 510
    Corpus Christi, Tx 78408
    Ph:361-883-5868 Fx:361-884-9145
    1805 Ruben Torres Blvd B-27
    Brownsville, Tx 78521 PH:956-541-1242
    or his District office Mgr
    I hope this helps some of you out there if you have questions my email is

  • luis garza
    June 7, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    My wife was born in Eagle Pass, Tx with a mid-wife in 1954 and she is being denied a U S Passport, the Sate Dept. claims that the mid-wife that delivered her is under suspicion of fraudulent activity. My wife has submitted all necessary documentation twice and has been denied.
    Help us and give us some sound advice. I, her husband was born in San Juan, Tx in my home, I was delivered by a Doctor who has long been deceased. I applied for a Passport and was granted one nearly 10 – years ago, it is up for renewal, I hope that they don;t decide to reject it based on the fect that I was born in a residence. The original Birth Certificate, which I have in my possession, shows his Anglo name but does not have the title “DR” or “MD”.

  • Rafael Mena
    June 8, 2009 at 7:57 am

    To all of you wishing to join the lawsuit against the Department of State initiated by the ACLU, send your contact information and date you submitted your application for your passport, they will ask you for additional information if neccesary. Remember we can ask for help until we are blue in the face, but if we don’t act we will not have this matter resolved effectively. Join and let them hear our voices.

  • Rafael Mena
    June 8, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    The sound advice is for you to:
    1. Contact your Congressman and notify them of the issue and what Sen. Ortiz is heading in the house of representatives, give a complete summary of your problem and the amount of times you have submitted your information to the State Department. If you have submitted the passport application recently provide the file number to your local Senator or Sen. Ortiz he will act on your behalf and begin direct communication with the Department of State to expedite your passport application, there has been great end results.
    2. Contact the ACLU and provide the same information, also request to join the law suit against the Department of State.
    3. Submit a letter to the Department of State notifying them of your action plan and politely letting them now that you have joined or are going to join the ACLU in their law suit, a court official in Cameron County assisting with passport applications and filing told me that submitting this information to the Department of State has provided him with 10 out of 10 results and in one of the incidents the passport fee for a person that had applied 3 times was waived and all previous documentation was returned to the applicant along with a passport.
    4. If all this fails contact your Congressman once again, he will submit a petition to the house of legislation adding your name to the bill he is requesting this will definetly add some unwanted tension to the Department of State and give you the upper hand and have your matter resolved one way or another.
    Step four has not been required according to the Court official at Cameron County, according to him the Department of state does not want to be in any law suits and will grant you the passport once you notify them that you are joining the ACLU.
    Again lets act on this and do a little foot work to get this resolved, asking for help is a great start but it helps when you join forces and act upon this unfair and discriminatory behavior, follow the steps contact the right people and help will come to you sooner than you expect.
    Again if you have any questions send me an email or just go to the sites on my initial message above.

  • socorro hernandez aguirre
    July 3, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    hi i applied for my passport but have not gotten it yet i am being asked for all sorts of documents that i dont now how to get a hold of nd i have paid for 7 birthcertificates and 2 death certificates out my pocket cuz i was asked for them.. thats 207 dollars plus my four daughters certificates that alot of money and i have called everyday and asked whats going on with it but all i get told is its in process…i hhad never been to mexico until i got married 15 years ago…i was born and raised in texas…my mom used a midwife who is actually still living…what can i do if my daughters want to travel with there dad to see their grandma like we do every year..and they will by no means cross that boarder with out me

  • Rafa
    July 10, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    Ms. Hernandez,
    The information you are in need has to be gathered at the different governmental agencies local and state; They are probably asking for:
    1. Baptism Records= contact the church you were babtised at or a statement from your church that you are not catholic but were baptised at the church, the record must contain the seal of the church and contact info in a sealed envelope.
    2. School records go to your local independent school distric admin building and request a copy of your records that is certified and sealed, you need one original and one copy. Get your older siblings school records and provide the same info.
    3. Immigration records, get all records on your older siblings and parents and or midwife’s court records of your birth certificate; notarized them by the court or a public notary.
    4. If your siblings or spouse have a passport, submit a copy that is notarized.
    5. All property records can be gathered at the courthouse to reflect proof of property at the time of birth.
    Write a letter stating your situation and why you are requesting your passport to be approved.
    Contact your State representative and fillout a request for them to contact the state on your behalf to have them apply pressure and have the passport issued.
    For past employers on your parents and you, you can submit copies of W2 forms, you could ask the IRS for official copies and they will provided, it will take a while just reflect on your letter to the State dept that these items have been requested and will be later submitted.
    FIGHT BACK!!! IF they deny it you will have all the deck card on your hand to suit them any immigration lawyer will assist you in suit them.

  • Rafael
    July 10, 2009 at 9:29 pm


  • Blanca P.
    July 19, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    My husband was delivered by a midwife in Eagle Pass, TX in 1960. He applied for a passport card in April 13, 2009 and two days ago he received a letter that the midwife was suspected of fraudulent activity. They provided a list of all the documents they need, but I do not where to start. Please help!

  • Ricardo M Galvan
    September 18, 2009 at 12:34 am

    I Wrote this letter to US Dept of State
    Ricardo M Galvan
    To: Jacqueline Harley
    United States Department of State
    Houston Passport Agency
    1919 Smith Street – Suite 1400
    Houston, TX 77002-8049
    The purpose of this letter is to inform you that I have complied with all the requirements that you have asked and I have provide you with the documentation that I can find. (The application, The fee, The Original Birth Certificate, The Certified School Records and this time will provide you with my parents Original Certificate of Naturalization they no longer have any cross cards INS keep them when they became citizen) I do not understand why you make this issue to complicated. I was born in the United States of America and that makes me a United States citizen and under the constitution have the right to have a passport. To me this is an act of discrimination against sons of Mexican immigrants. I believe you people have forgotten the principles of the United States Constitution. Ironically my oldest son is serving the United States in the Air Force to defend our rights and I don’t have the right of a passport. Perhaps if my name was Richard Harley or if my skin was white and not brown I wouldn’t have the same problems.
    The 14th Amendment – Citizenship Rights… All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.

  • Jose
    October 4, 2009 at 2:46 am

    Same problem for the last 2 years. Need a legal advice asap since they are now threatening me with denying my passport.

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