U.S. Congressman Solomon Ortiz has been fighting to give people like Manuel Contreras the same right to a passport as any other American-born traveler.
"We were getting a lot of calls coming into our office; I contacted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and said they were ridiculous."
Congressman Ortiz defended his constituents saying they were being accused of fraud because they couldn't produce records proving their mothers lived in the US before the child was born.
"What they were asking for was ridiculous. Some of the people had been given a birth certificate, but just because they were delivered by a midwife, there was a big doubt on the part of the government." The complaints have given birth to an opportunity for some people delivered by midwives to re-apply for a passport. Special processing services will be held in Brownsville and McAllen, May 17th thru the 23rd, as part of a settlement in a class action lawsuit against the Department of State. Those who qualify as a class member in the case and receive a verification letter from the state department will be allowed to attend.
"Now you have the opportunity to go meet with these people, take the proper paperwork, this might be the last opportunity you have." According to the State Department, potential class members must meet all of the following three requirements:
1) Have a birth certificate registered by a midwife or birth attendant in Texas2) Have a applied for a U.S. passport in the country between April 8, 2003 and Aug. 14, 20093) Have received a letter stating their passport application was "filed without further action, "abandoned" or "closed," or did not receive a response.
To become a class member, residents should register online through the website.
Click here to listen to an audio message from Congressman Ortiz's office regarding the midwives and passports.