Texas Won’t Give Birth Certificates to Children of Undocumented Women

Houston Press, By Michael Barajas, July 16

State officials have refused to give an untold number of Texas-born children birth certificates due to their parents’ immigration status, according to a lawsuit that was filed earlier this year.

More than a dozen undocumented women have sued the Department of State Health Services, saying workers at vital statistics offices in the Rio Grande Valley refused to give them birth certificates because of insufficient records proving their identity. Many of the women had used the same documents – a so-called matricula issued by their consulate or a foreign passport without a current U.S. visa – to obtain birth certificates for other children born in Texas as recently as 2012.

The lawsuit, which was reported by the Texas Observer earlier this week, claims these children are being discriminated against because of a parent’s tenuous immigration status. Without official proof of the parent-child relationship, the children have been unable to enroll in school, have had difficulty obtaining medical care and other benefits they should be eligible to receive as U.S. citizens.

Children of Immigrants Denied Citizenship

The Texas Observer, By Melissa del Bosque, July 13

For nearly 150 years, the United States, under the 14th Amendment, has recognized people born here as citizens, regardless of whether their parents were citizens.

But Texas has other plans. In the last year, the state has refused to issue birth certificates to children who were born in Texas to undocumented parents. In May, four women filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Texas Department of State Health Services alleging constitutional discrimination and interference in the federal government’s authority over immigration.

Jennifer Harbury, a lawyer with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, who is representing the women, said the deluge of birth certificate refusals began last winter. “I’ve never seen such a large number of women with this problem,” she says. “In the past someone might be turned away, but it was always resolved. This is something altogether new.”

According to the lawsuit, the women who requested birth certificates for their children in Cameron and Hidalgo counties were turned away because of insufficient proof of their identities. State law allows the use of a foreign ID if the mother lacks a Texas driver’s license or a U.S. passport.

But local officials, which issue birth certificates registered by the Texas Department of State Health Services Vital Statistics Unit, told the women they would no longer accept either the matricula consular, which is a photo ID issued by the Mexican Consulate to Mexican nationals living in the U.S., or a foreign passport without a current U.S. visa. Undocumented Central American women are also being turned away because they only have a passport without a U.S. visa. “They are locking out a huge chunk of the undocumented immigrant community,” says Harbury.

Latin Times: Texas Denies Birth Certificates To Children Of Undocumented Immigrants, June 2

This post was read 132 times.

About author View all posts


Leave a Reply