Local Attorneys Hopeful to Clarify Citizenship Issues Impacting People Born near Border
WESLACO – An issue affecting many born near the U.S.-Mexico border could soon be in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court.
It's brought forth by Rio Grande Valley attorneys hoping they clarify where people can wait while the fate of their revoked or denied passports is determined.
The government limits issuance or re-issuance of passports to those who have U.S. and Mexico birth certificates.
It's all about timing. When a passport gets revoked or denied while the person is in the U.S., they can appeal and request a judicial review on that decision.
If the passport becomes invalid while they are in Mexico, the government says they "may" appeal through a different process, says immigration attorney Jaime Diez.
Diez explains that process includes signing a form, a Certificate of Identity with the U.S. Consulate, in which the person allows the government to identify them as "alien".
"Once the person at the port of entry gets that document, he can do two things. He can either admit you and put you in proceedings or allow you to enter, or he can detain you," he says.
It's what happened to one of his clients CHANNEL 5 NEWS interviewed back in February 2018 was sent to detention.
Two women named in the lawsuit are waiting in Mexico.
This longer process can be a disadvantage in other ways. Availability of bed space in detention centers could determine detention facilities, some far from the border, as in Florida, Diez offers as a hypothetical example.
"You're going to have to find an attorney there that is going to have to bring witnesses about whether you were born here in Florida, with a judge from Florida who is not familiar with a port of entry (and) who is not familiar with a local customs. I think you can see that you're in a great disadvantage," he explains.
Diez and two other Cameron County attorneys, Elisabeth S. Brodyaga and Cathy J. Potter, asked courts to allow these U.S. citizens to appeal their decision through the process that doesn't call them to define themselves as quote "aliens" who could be detained.
The judges sided with the government. Now they've turned to the Supreme Court.
Diez tells us the government was asked to file a response in this case.
They expect to find out if the Supreme Court will take it up Jan. 2, 2019.