Here is the recent story and link of a woman jailed because of this issue.
Woman's jailing a 'terrible dream'
BROWNSVILLE — When Maria Teresa Payan de Castillo received her U.S. passport, she assumed her quest for citizenship had ended.
“There’s no better proof that you’re American,” her husband Jose Castillo told her.
Four years later, Payan de Castillo sits behind bars in a South Texas prison, accused of attempting to enter the United States illegally.
The State Department claims she should never have received a passport.
A criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court alleges that she was actually born in Durango, Mexico, and later obtained a passport “by means of fraud and misrepresentation.”
But Payan de Castillo, who was delivered by a Brownsville midwife, followed standard procedure in applying for her passport, obtaining a birth certificate later in life because no certificate was provided at her home at birth.
She obtained notarized statements from witnesses of her delivery and three documents citing the date and place of her birth. The federal government approved her passport application without additional questions, also granting her a voter’s registration card and calling on her for jury duty.
According to her attorney, Juan Magallanes, she crossed the U.S.-Mexico border 89 times with her passport before U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents detained her on the way back from Matamoros in mid-September.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement has now placed a detainer on Payan de Castillo — a longtime Cameron Park resident — keeping her in custody without the opportunity to make bail.
“The State Department saw sufficient proof to provide her a passport,” Magallanes said. “How is it that they’re detaining her when her passport is valid and approved by the government?”
State Department officials refused to comment on the charges.
The case has inspired fear in residents who have heard about Payan de Castillo’s situation. Like many South Texans, her delivery by a midwife has haunted her attempts to establish citizenship.
The State Department has denied thousands of passports to South Texans delivered by midwives, citing a history of birth certificate forgeries in the region.
Some worry that Payan de Castillo’s case foreshadows the next chapter in the government’s crackdown: the prosecution of current passport holders.
CITIZENSHIP ON TRIAL
Payan de Castillo’s path to citizenship was an unusual, but long accepted one. In her mid-20s — after spending much of her youth in Mexico — she received a delayed birth certificate from the Texas Department of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics stating the details of her birth in Brownsville. Every year, approximately 1,000 such birth certificates are issued in Texas to citizens delivered outside of hospitals.
Officials from the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service said birth certificates are the “key documents” used to obtain authentic passports by fraud. But officials did not say why the legitimacy of a passport would be questioned years after it was granted.
Payan de Castillo’s possession of a U.S. passport is now counted as an additional charge, on top of the accusation that she attempted to enter the country illegally. The fraud charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years confinement in federal prison.
In recent months, the State Department has launched what it calls “the largest ever investigation into the issuance of fraudulently obtained United States passports,” arresting a number of individuals who obtained passports using the birth certificates of deceased Americans.
But Payan de Castillo’s charge appears to be unique. She obtained her passport in her own name, using information approved by the Cameron County judge, the State of Texas and the federal government.
“If they’re questioning her citizenship, why did they give her a passport in the first place?” Jose Castillo asked. “This is an unacceptable way to treat a citizen.”
Payan de Castillo’s case could be complicated by actions she took before obtaining her passport.
The federal government alleges that in 2004 she crossed the border illegally and was deported, only months before her passport arrived in the mail.
She did what she had to do to see her family, Jose Castillo said. “Before the papers came, there was no alternative.”
And if she’s a U.S. citizen by birth — as the issuance of her birth certificate suggests — then a previous deportation is irrelevant, according to staff attorneys at Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid.
A 1984 federal court case, the Matter of Villanueva, established that “unless void on its face, a valid United States passport … is not subject to a collateral attack in administrative immigration proceedings but constitutes conclusive proof of such person’s United States citizenship.”
Magallanes hopes to use the precedent to lobby for Payan de Castillo’s release until a trial concludes.
“What other proof could they need?” Jose Castillo asked. “This all just feels like a terrible dream. It’s something I never thought could happen in this country.”