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Local Mid-Wives React To ACLU Lawsuit Regarding Passports

By ABC-7 Reporter/Anchor Ken Molestina

EL PASO — If you were born to a midwife along the U.S.-Mexico border region, getting an American passport has become more complicated.

If you request a passport, you might be investigated by the federal government to determine if in fact you were born in the U.S.

“It wasn’t uncommon for people to come in and ask for an illegal birth certificate two or three times a week,” said a local mid-wife.

It’s thistype of practice along the border dating back to the 60’s and 70’s that has prompted the U.S. Department of State toplace stricter restrictions to passportapplicants born to mid-wives in our region.

“There were a lot of people along the border who were not necessarily practicing mid-wives,” said the local mid-wive. “They were selling birth certificates from Brownsville to El Paso.”

Linda Arnold — an El Paso midwife and Director of Casa de Nacimiento — saidthe state departments concerns are legit.

Arnold — who’s clinic is a licensed birth center — believes the government’s strict new guidelines are unjust.”The people that I’ve seen are not being turned down, they’re being land blasted with paperwork,” she said. “It’s impossible to comply with the regulations.”

She is not alone in her sentiment.

Earlier this week in Brownsville, Texas, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the State Department.

In the suit, nine peopleclaim the government is forcing them to undergo heavy scrutiny to get their passports.The lawsuit claims the reason is because they were born to mid-wives and are of Mexican decent.

“I think it feels like an incredible betrayal for the people that we represent,” said a lawyer for the organization.”They applyfor their passport with every expectation of having one granted like any other citizen.”

Although the suit only represents nine people, experts estimate tens of thousands of Americans are effected by this blanket policy of the U.S. Government.

“People that have lived here, worked here, gone to school here and gotten married, they’ve had whole lives here and are stillbeing denied these same rights,” added the lawyer.

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