Immigrant Parents Sue: Texas Denies Birth Certificates
Immigrant Parents Sue: Texas Denies Birth Certificates to American-born Children
Immigrant parents are suing because Texas denies birth certificates to children born in the United States. Immigrant parents with U.S.-born children rely heavily on their child’s birth certificate for school enrollment, access to Medicaid and other government services. Attorneys representing immigrant parents – mainly from Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras – declare that Texas uses identification requirements to combat the Obama administration’s immigrant policy at a time when the state faces an influx of new immigrants.
State officials say immigrant parents are required to present a U.S. license they do not have, a Mexican passport they may have, but without a U.S. visa, and a national voter ID card, some of which who may or may not have depending if they were of voting age when they crossed into the United States. State registrars require immigrant parents to present all forms of documentation to obtain their American-born children’s birth certificate, therefore placing a significant barrier for the parents who do not have every document.
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According to the 14th Amendment, citizenship is granted to all persons born or naturalized in the United States, forbidding states from denying any person “life, liberty or property, without due process of the law.” Therefore, attorneys allege the refusals are an “unconstitutional, discriminatory political tactic” and demand a judge force Texas into compliance with federal law.
Though children born in the United States, by law, are entitled to U.S. citizenship, Texan authorities have placed significant barriers on undocumented immigrants seeking to obtain birth certificates for their American-born children. Hundreds of immigrant parents have endured Texas denying their children’s U.S. birth certificate since 2013 as authorities have made it more challenging for parents, who have no access to U.S.-issued papers, to use alternative identification. According to spokesman for the Department of State Health Services, Chris Van Deusen, state registrars cannot accept identification cards, more commonly known as matriculas, issued to foreign nationals by their local consulates because they are not verified by the issuing party.
In California, spokesperson for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Jorge-Mario Cabrera, stated that the matricula identification card is an “integral part of doing business with immigrants, both documented and undocumented.” Immigrants use their matricula ID cards to obtain U.S.-born children’s birth certificates, conduct business with banks, and even use it at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
As Texas denies birth certificates to American-born children, retaliation to the 2012 Obama administration’s effort to protect millions of immigrants from deportation significantly increased in the Republican state. Lead attorney Jennifer Harbury of Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, “sees the denials in Texas as part of a larger backlash by Republican state leaders against President Barak Obama’s 2012 executive action on immigration, which would shield from deportation millions of parents of American children who crossed the border illegally.”
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- Molly Hennessy-Fiske. “Immigrants Sue Texas Over State’s Denial of Birth Certificates for U.S.-Born Children.” Los Angeles Times. July 18, 2015. Print.
- 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Library of Congress. Virtual Services. Retrieved August 12, 2015.