By: Michael Bhotiwihok
The United States Department of State is understandably cautious before they issue a person a U.S. passport. They are determined to avoid issuing a passport to person, who is only fraudulently claiming to be a citizen of the United States. Since these fraudulent claims do occur, it is often legitimate U.S. citizens who are forced to endure long waits, burdensome requests for additional documents, etc., all just to obtain what they are legally entitled to – a U.S. passport.
A client of Reeves Immigration Law Group was recently a victim of this bureaucratic nightmare. Our client, who we will refer to as Lucia to protect her privacy, was born in the United States through the use of a midwife. She was rightfully issued a U.S. birth certificate following her birth, and she previously used this birth certificate to obtain a U.S. passport. Lucia had no idea that renewing her passport after it expired would be so challenging. There were delays, doubts about whether Lucia was actually a U.S. citizen, etc.
Lucia eventually decided that, rather than trying to complete the process on her own, perhaps she should consult with an expert. She had a consultation with Reeves Immigration Law Group and felt encouraged that we would be able to assist her. Attorneys Brittany Milliasseau and Michael Bhotiwihok happily accepted the challenge to represent Lucia in her application.
Due to their experience and research, Attorney Milliasseau and Attorney Bhotiwihok were able to explain to Lucia why the government was challenging her claim of U.S. citizenship. They told Lucia that the U.S. government’s concern about her citizenship was likely because she was born with the assistance of a midwife. But they also told Lucia that the simple fact that she was born with the assistance of a midwife did not mean that her application should be denied. After all, it is well known that the use of midwives is a long-standing tradition along Texas’ southern border with Mexico. In fact, midwifery has been a common practice for more than a century, particularly in rural and other traditionally underserved communities.
Attorney Milliasseau and Attorney Bhotiwihok wrote legal arguments about why Lucia should be issued a U.S. passport. They referenced an agreement in 2009 between the U.S. Department of State and the American Civil Liberties Union to implement new procedures to ensure the fair and prompt review of U.S. passport applications by Mexican-Americans whose births in Texas were attended by midwives. Attorney Milliasseau and Attorney Bhotiwihok discussed how due process and equal protection rights of U.S. citizens delivered by midwives should not be violated by burdensome and unnecessary requests for them to prove their citizenship, and their applications should not be arbitrarily denied simply because a midwife was used at their birth.
Reeves Immigration Law Group is now happy to say that Lucia’s application for a U.S. passport has finally been approved. It required convincing legal arguments and supporting documentary evidence, but after years of delay, Lucia now has a valid U.S. passport. And with her passport in hand, she is reassured that her constitutional rights will be protected as she freely travels outside the country for a long-awaited trip to see friends and family abroad.