Texas’ Birth Certificate Issuance: Process Now Easier For The Children Of Undocumented Immigrants From Mexico And Central America
It is now easier for undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Central America to obtain birth certificates for their children born in Texas. The ruling comes after a lawsuit settlement involving Texas being accused of denying birthright U.S. citizenship to kids with parents who are in the country illegally.
Lawyers for the Texas Civil Rights Project said the state will now accept more forms of identification and supporting documents that are easier for undocumented immigrants to obtain, the Associated Press reported (via ABC News). Texas, however, is still not accepting ID cards given by Mexican consulates, but they will take valid Mexican voter ID cards issued by United States consulates.
The U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment gives citizenship to children (also called birthright citizenship) born in the country regardless of their parents' status. An order signed by U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman puts the lawsuit away as long as Texas maintains the new agreement.
Fears OF Immigrant Parents Quashed
The plaintiffs claimed that Texas had a vague and inconsistent process for issuing birth certificates to undocumented parents, the Texas Observer reported. Some forms of documentation were considered valid due to the state's existing rules, but they weren't consistently acknowledged at Texas offices, which told the parents that their proof of identification isn't suitable enough.
It was in 2013 when Texas started imposing stricter rules for obtaining birth certificates. Prior to that year, undocumented parents can easily obtain birth certificates by using ID cards issued by Mexican consulates and foreign passports without U.S. visas.
For instance, plaintiffs said they were able to use the "matricula" consular to obtain birth certificates for their Texas-born children. The matricula is an ID issued by Mexico's consulates to Mexican nationals in the U.S., but Texas refused to validate that document in the early 2010s.
Efrén Olivares, the lead attorney in the lawsuit, said their clients constantly fear that their families will be torn apart and "their American-born children deported" if they don't have birth certificates, the Austin American-Statesman reported. Aside from these, undocumented parents have a harder time getting basic education, health, and childcare services for their kids.
Olivares said they never knew what pushed Texas to change their rules. The state will also accept certification documents from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, the Texas Observer listed.
The Texas Department of State Health Services said the agreement only adds minor details to the state's list of acceptable documentation forms. They said it will not require them to change DSHS' current rules or policies.