The military and their families sometimes make the ultimate sacrifice while serving. Ex-marine Mark Esqueda served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2007 to 2011, but he has since had his application for a passport twice rejected by the State Department, which maintains that he has insufficient documentation to prove he was born in the U.S. This is despite the fact that Esqueda had high-level clearance that requires multiple background checks while serving.
Esqueda has filed a suit against the U.S. State Department and also names Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The claim is that the State Department is asking for proof of citizenship that is beyond what is required to get a passport, and thus restricting his right as a citizen to travel freely. It also argues that being treated in this way puts his other rights as a citizen in jeopardy, including social security, employment and other benefits.
A birth in a border town
The heart of the issue is that a midwife in the Texas border town of Hidalgo delivered Esqueda. Even though there was a law enforcement officer present at the birth, the birth certificate created by the midwife was deemed to be insufficient proof.
According to Newsweek, Esqueda first attempted to get his passport in 2012 and was denied. He applied again in 2017 with five additional affidavits from family and friends as well as the police officer who witnessed the birth in Hidalgo, but the State Department once again denied the application. The government argued that several midwives in that area had admitted to falsifying birth certificates to give babies U.S. citizenship even if they were born in Mexico.
Old tricks from the government
This is not the first time that the State Department has attempted to deny citizens their right to a passport, but hopefully, the lawsuit will bring to light the fact that the government is violating their own rules. It is tragic that any citizen is treated this way, but doubly so because it is a decorated serviceman. Those who feel that the government is violating their rights as a citizen or person with a legal visa should follow Esqueda’s example and seek legal guidance to protect their rights.