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Friday, July 19, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Passport Office Discriminates Against|Hispanics Born By Midwife, Woman Says

MINNEAPOLIS (CN) - The State Department refuses to issue a passport to a U.S. citizen because she was born with assistance of a midwife, the 62-year-old Latina claims in Federal Court. Midwife-assisted births are common even today among Hispanic residents of South Texas.

Marina Ramirez was born in San Benito, Texas, in 1946, and her parents obtained a birth certificate for her in 1950. She lives in Minnesota.

The State Department rejected her passport applications in 2007 and 2008, though she submitted birth certificates and additional documents.

Then the State Department "took the additional, extraordinary step of notifying the Texas Department of State Health Services that the Department should not issue any additional copies of her birth certificate to Mrs. Ramirez. ... Defendants thereafter refused to return any of Mrs. Ramirez's certified birth certificates which she submitted to them with her prior passport applications."

Ramirez says the State Department subjected her to "unreasonable, burdensome and excessive evidentiary demands, specifically requesting documents not required from other passport applicants not having a midwife-assisted birth or an Hispanic surname."

She says State is "interfering with Texas' determination that the documents issued by its agency are valid" and "making every birth certificate of identification document offered as evidence of citizenship to the passport agency subject to re-adjudication or authentication for arbitrary and capricious reasons."

Ramirez says State's acts are "particularly egregious" because the state of Texas held a hearing to determine the validity of her birth certificate "and determined under the 'preponderance of the evidence' standard that she has met this standard."

She seeks writ of mandamus. She is represented by Sonseere Goldenberg.

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