Midwives deliver new problems in citizenship
The federal government is pressing these border residents to essentially prove their U.S. citizenship all over again if they hope to gain a passport, The Brownsville Herald reported Sunday.
Officials suspect many South Texans who were delivered by midwives are applying for passports with fraudulent birth certificates. Some of them, officials say, were actually born in Mexico.
The number of passport applications is rising in the Rio Grande Valley because of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which will require a passport to travel into Mexico.
"Normally, a birth certificate is sufficient to prove citizenship," said Cy Ferenchak, a spokesperson for the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs. "But because of a history of fraudulently filed reports on the Southwest border, we don't have much faith in the (midwife-granted) document."
From 1960 to 2008, more than 75 South Texas midwives were convicted of signing birth certificates for children they did not deliver.
Mireya Salgado, who was denied a passport and is now having to provide additional proof of her U.S. citizenship because she was delivered by a midwife, said the extra scrutiny is unfair.
"After 56 years, it's like they're questioning whether my citizenship was a big mistake," said Salgado, a 10th-grade English teacher at Porter High School. "I was born here. My mother was born here. This is the only place we've known."
Many families like Salgado's couldn't afford hospital care and depended on midwives as an alternative, especially before 1984 when Medicaid began covering childbirth.
The Texas Midwifery Board reports that in 2004, 6.6 percent of babies born in Texas were delivered by midwives.
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