News & Commentary written by David Hernandez

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David Hernandez


David Hernandez was born in San Benito, Texas, in 1964 and currently lives in Harlingen, Texas. He grew up and went to school in the Rio Grande valley and served a decorated three-year stint in the U.S. Army during which he travelled extensively throughout Europe, both as part of his service and on his own. He applied for a passport in 2007, and received a letter dated August 31, 2007 in which the State Department stated that the birth certificate he provided, in its view, did not support his claim of U.S. birth and directed that he substantiate his claim by completing the Supplemental Worksheet and sending a combination of contemporaneously-created documents that would evidence his place of birth or his parents’ residency in the United States at the time of his birth. In a letter dated October 22, 2007, the State Department also directed that Mr. Hernandez provide “a combination of early public documents created prior to or at the time of [his] birth” within 45 days.

In response, Mr. Hernandez provided a variety of documents to prove his birth in the United States, including his baptismal certificate, which indicates that he was baptized in San Benito, Texas, on July 3, 1966, and that he was born in San Benito on the date reflected in his original birth certificate, and his Texas Department of Health immunization records, issued by the Harlingen Health Center, which show immunizations administered from 1970 through 1974. He also provided school records from 1979 to evidence his having attended school in the Harlingen School District. As an explanation of why he could not provide his school records from earlier years, he sent a letter from the Custodian of Records for the Harlingen Public School District stating that Mr. Hernandez’s elementary school records are no longer available. In an effort to forestall any assertion of Mexican birth, Mr. Hernandez requested a search of Mexican birth records for a record of himself and provided the State Department with the resulting letter from the Mexican Civil Registry which indicated that no such person existed in their records. To explain further the circumstances of his birth, he submitted affidavits from his mother and from Abundio Barrientos Rios, the daughter of Victoria Barrientos, who was present when David’s mother went into labor. He further attempted to prove the legitimacy of his midwife-assisted birth by sending an open records request to the Texas Midwifery Board, in which he requested the licensure file for Alvina M. Pedraza. The Midwifery Board responded by letter, indicating that no records prior to 1983 were available and that no such file was found in searches of post-1983 records. Mr. Hernandez also sent this letter to the State Department. In addition, he sent the State Department his certificate of discharge from the Army, which shows that he served from 1986 through 1989.

The Department responded by letter, dated April 8, 2008, asserting that it had “not received a response from him, or he had not fully complied with the request for additional information and/or documentation” and informing Hernandez that his passport application was therefore being “filed without further action.” With the letter, the Department returned the numerous documents Mr. Hernandez had submitted.