Since 2013, immigrant families in south Texas have been denied birth certificates because state registrars are no longer accepting photo ID cards issued by local consulates. For years, many parents who enter the US illegally have been able to acquire birth certificates for their US-born children using these consulate ID cards. This appears to be a recent political shift in Texas policy in the midst of many ongoing legal battles with President Obama’s immigration executive actions that have been thwarted by Texas courts.
Anyone born in the United States is entitled by the 14th Amendment of the Constitution to U.S. citizenship, including children born to mothers who entered the country illegally. But the law doesn’t bar the deportation of illegal migrants themselves, creating a complicated situation where parents could be deported while their children retain legal status. Consulate-provided ID has long been vital for these US born children to access medical care, state benefits and school enrollment. At North County Immigration, we think the recent Texas actions are unconstitutional and that it seems that Texas is putting the well being of many children at risk just to make a political point. The state has begun to increase barriers to undocumented immigrants seeking birth certificates for their native-born children. Last month, the Dallas County Clerk’s Office announced it would no longer accept Mexican identification, known as “matriculas“. Civil rights lawyers say this is a response to the Obama administration’s efforts to protect millions of immigrants from deportation, especially parents of children born in the U.S.
A lawsuit filed in May on behalf of 19 parents and 23 children is challenging Texas state officials on this issue. “Officials have refused and continue to refuse to provide the adult plaintiffs with certified copes of the birth certificates for their Texas-born sons and daughters,” said the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Austin. “The lack of a birth certificate, in turn, is causing serious harm to all plaintiffs.”