FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Banner Month for Passports

August 2008 was a banner month for passports. They played a significant role in world events that garnered them rare publicity. Two of the events demonstrated how easy a government can make it to get passports and one demonstrated how difficult it can be.

In August, Russia and Georgia got into an argument over whether Abkhazia and South Ossetia should be allowed to leave Georgia and become independent or should remain part of Georgia. For the last several years Russia has been issuing passports to residents of South Ossetia, thus bestowing Russian citizenship on the holders. Thus, when invading South Ossetia, Russia was simply going to the aid of its citizens, albeit many of them Russian-come-lately. (If George Bush were clever he would have issued passports to Iraqis prior to invading their country and then announced he was simply acting to protect United States citizens.)

China, too, issued passports in furtherance of national objectives. In November 2007 an associated press release described the success of a young girl gymnast, He Kexin. He was one of the stars at China’s Cities Games in November 2007. Xinhua, the Chinese Government’s news agency reported on her success in those games and said she was 13 years of age. Olympic rules require that for a gymnast to compete in Olympic games the gymnast must attain age 16 in the year in which the games take place. For He to leap over the years that separate 13 from 16 in a mere 9 months was something that not even a gymnast as accomplished as she could hope to accomplish. It was accomplished instead by issuing a passport. In 9 months He aged 3 years and her team became the first Chinese women’s team to win a gold medal in gymnastics. Passports can, of course, be withheld in furtherance of a country’s foreign policy, as the United States showed.

A law that goes into effect next year requires anyone crossing between the United States and Canada or Mexico to present a passport instead of a birth certificate or driver’s license. As a result the thousands who cross borders daily because of employment must now obtain passports. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that many United States citizens who were born in South Texas are having difficulty obtaining passports.

Ordinarily a passport can be obtained by furnishing the issuing authority a certified copy of a birth certificate, acceptable identification and the appropriate fee. Whereas Russia made it easy for people in South Ossetia to get passports, the State Department has made it difficult for people in South Texas to get theirs. A birth certificate is not always accepted because the State Department has learned that some people in South Texas have fake birth certificates. Those people were delivered by mid-wives and some of the mid-wives were convicted of forging birth certificates for children born not in South Texas but in Mexico. The forgeries may have affected as many as 15,000 people.

Although people in South Texas can vote, become border-patrol agents or president of the United States, they may not obtain passports without additional proof that they were born in the U.S.A. Here are some of the things these presumptively non-citizens can do to satisfy the State Department. They can obtain affidavits or testimony from the mid-wives who delivered them, assuming the midwives can be found and can remember whom they delivered dozens of years after the birth. They can produce newspaper announcements of their births or they can produce hospital records going back dozens of years to show they were treated in the hospital if, indeed, they were. Juan Aranda is someone who has been unable to get a passport and here is what he has done.

Juan submitted all the required documentation and when he was turned down sent in school records going back 38 years showing that his kindergarten records recited that his birthplace was Weslaco, Texas. He sent in a picture of his kindergarten class that included him. He sent in a baptismal certificate with a church seal reciting he was born in that town. He explained that pre-natal medical history was unavailable because his mother was too poor to have pre-natal care.

The State Department told Mr. Aranda that he hadn’t “fully complied with the request for additional information” and he should start the process to become a naturalized citizen. Instead, Mr. Aranda hired a lawyer. If his lawyer is successful it may soon be as easy for an American citizen to get an American passport as it is for a Georgian citizen to get a Russian passport. Mr. Aranda’s success would be remembered as another example of the courts being invoked to protect the citizens of the United States from the administration of George W. Bush.

CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI is a lawyer living in Boulder, Colorado. He can be reached at:  Brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu

 

Your Ad Here
 

 

 

 

More articles by:

February 21, 2019
Nick Pemberton
Israel, Venezuela and Nationalism In The Neoliberal Era
Chris Orlet
The Bill and Melinda Gates’ Fair Taxation Scaremongering Tour
Bruce E. Levine
“Heavy Drinking” and the NYT’s Offensive Obit on Herbert Fingarette
Lisi Krall
This Historical Moment Demands Transformation of Our Institutions. The Green New Deal Won’t Do That
Stephanie Savell
Mapping the American War on Terror: Now in 80 Countries
Daniel Warner
New York, New York: a Resounding Victory for New York Over Amazon
Russell Mokhiber
With Monsanto and Glyphosate on the Run AAAS Revokes Award to Scientists Whose Studies Led to Ban on Weedkiller in Sri Lanka and Other Countries
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s Fake National Emergency Moves America Closer to an Autocracy
Alex Campbell
Tracing the Threads in Venezuela: Humanitarian Aid
Jonah Raskin
Mitchel Cohen Takes on Global and Local Goliaths: Profile of a Lifelong Multi-Movement Organizer
Binoy Kampmark
Size Matters: the Demise of the Airbus A380
Elliot Sperber
For Your Children (or: Dead Ahead)
February 20, 2019
Anthony DiMaggio
Withdrawal Pains and Syrian Civil War: An Analysis of U.S. Media Discourse
Charles Pierson
When Saudi Arabia Gets the Bomb
Doug Johnson Hatlem
“Electability” is Real (Unless Married with the Junk Science of Ideological Spectrum Analysis)
Kenneth Surin
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline: Another Boondoggle in Virginia
John Feffer
The Psychology of the Wall
Dean Baker
Modern Monetary Theory and Taxing the Rich
Russell Mokhiber
Citizens Arrested Calling Out Manchin on Rockwool
George Ochenski
Unconstitutional Power Grabs
Michael T. Klare
War With China? It’s Already Under Way
Thomas Knapp
The Real Emergency Isn’t About the Wall, It’s About the Separation of Powers
Manuel García, Jr.
Two Worlds
Daniel Warner
The Martin Ennals and Victorian Prize Winners Contrast with Australia’s Policies against Human Dignity
Norman Solomon
What the Bernie Sanders 2020 Campaign Means for Progressives
Dan Corjescu
2020 Vision: A Strategy of Courage
Matthew Johnson
Why Protest Trump When We Can Impeach Him?
William A. Cohn
Something New and Something Old: a Story Still Being Told
Bill Martin
The Fourth Hypothesis: the Present Juncture of the Trump Clarification and the Watershed Moment on the Washington Mall
February 19, 2019
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Troublesome Possibilities: The Left and Tulsi Gabbard
Patrick Cockburn
She Didn’t Start the Fire: Why Attack the ISIS Bride?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Literature and Theater During War: Why Euripides Still Matters
Maximilian Werner
The Night of Terror: Wyoming Game and Fish’s Latest Attempt to Close the Book on the Mark Uptain Tragedy
Conn Hallinan
Erdogan is Destined for Another Rebuke in Turkey
Nyla Ali Khan
Politics of Jammu and Kashmir: The Only Viable Way is Forward
Mark Ashwill
On the Outside Looking In: an American in Vietnam
Joyce Nelson
Sir Richard Branson’s Venezuelan-Border PR Stunt
Ron Jacobs
Day of Remembrance and the Music of Anthony Brown        
Cesar Chelala
Women’s Critical Role in Saving the Environment
February 18, 2019
Paul Street
31 Actual National Emergencies
Robert Fisk
What Happened to the Remains of Khashoggi’s Predecessor?
David Mattson
When Grizzly Bears Go Bad: Constructions of Victimhood and Blame
Julian Vigo
USMCA’s Outsourcing of Free Speech to Big Tech
George Wuerthner
How the BLM Serves the West’s Welfare Ranchers
Christopher Fons
The Crimes of Elliot Abrams
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail