US Customs officer of nearly two decades loses job, citizenship over unbeknownst birth certificate from Mexico: report

A U.S. Customs officer who worked for the agency for nearly two decades lost his job and had his citizenship application rejected after his birth certificate revealed that, unbeknownst to him, he was born in Mexico, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Raul Rodriguez, a Navy veteran, was fired in July and had his residency application rejected, according to the newspaper. He was born along the border in Matamoros, Mexico, an area where parents commonly obtain second U.S. birth certificates from midwives to allow them to attend school in the United States, the Times reported.

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Texas officials have cracked down on the practice in recent years, flagging nearly 250 suspicious birth certificates in 2019 alone. Federal court records indicate that the midwife who signed off on Rodriguez’s birth certificate was also suspected in several other cases. She died in 2005.

“The U.S.-Mexico border region happens to be an area of the country where there has been a significant incidence of citizenship fraud,” the State Department said in a Monday statement, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“This fraud has included instances where midwives and other birth attendants, in addition to legitimately registering births in the United States, have accepted money and filed U.S. birth certificates for babies actually born in Mexico,” the State Department added.

Rodriguez appeared on U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’s (USCIS) radar after he provided his birth certificate to aid his brother in Mexico’s passport application. After he was informed of the discrepancy by federal authorities, he confronted his father, who confirmed that he was born in Mexico.

After an internal investigation, Customs and Border Protection cleared Rodriguez of wrongdoing in April 2018 and gave him a three-year window to secure citizenship and return to work. Raul Jr., the eldest of his four children, would also need to apply, as he was born in Matamoros and received citizenship through his father.

USCIS denied Rodriguez’s citizenship application last June, ruling that he had “falsely claimed” to be a citizen and had illegally voted.

USCIS also recently denied Rodriguez’s residency application. Rodriguez’s lawyer has filed a motion to reopen the residency case but has not yet heard back. Raul Jr.’s citizenship application is still pending, according to the Times.

“Anything happened, we knew we’d have the ‘blue wave’ to back us up,” Rodriguez’s wife Anita said in reference to her husband’s fellow officers. “Now when we see them, they act like they don’t know us. Nothing’s changed. He’s still the same person. But they’re treating him like a pariah.”