Monday, June 29, 2009

ACLU and State Department to settle dispute over U.S. citizen passport refusals

Photo used under Creative Commons from swimparallel.

In our June 15, 2009 post, we discussed how some U.S. citizens were being denied passports by the State Department. The State Department routinely refused to issue passports for U.S. citizens, mostly Mexican-Americans, born along the border with the aid of a midwife. The ACLU on behalf of several U.S. citizens brought a lawsuit against the State Department to stop the practice. The ACLU announced on June 26, 2009 that "The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has agreed to implement new procedures designed to ensure the fair and prompt review of U.S. passport applications by Mexican Americans whose births in Texas were attended by midwives. Under the agreement, no eligible applicant should be denied a passport."

If the settlement is approved by the court, the DOS will implement new training for its staff on how to properly evaluate these passport applications and all denials will be reviewed by a three-member panel. Importantly, "anyone birthed by a midwife who has filed an application for a passport between April 2003 and September 15, 2008 and, with a few exceptions, whose application was not expressly 'denied,' can re-apply for free. DOS will be setting up mobile units across the border on specific dates to assist those reapplying. " You can read the full press release here.

You can say what you want about the ACLU, but they were instrumental in stopping this discriminatory practice by the U.S. government.

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