Hiram Ramirez didn’t expect problems this week when she went to get a birth certificate for her newborn daughter, Dulce.
Ramirez, 28, a native of neighboring Reynosa, Mexico, crossed the border illegally and has lived in the Rio Grande Valley for years. Her two older daughters, ages 3 and 14, were U.S.-born, and she easily obtained birth certificates for them using her Mexican voter registration and consular identification card. She relied on the birth certificates to register her girls for school, Medicaid and other government services.
But when the stay-at-home mother arrived at the downtown vital statistics office Thursday, she discovered the rules had changed. Without a U.S. driver’s license, visa or Mexican electoral card, she could not obtain a birth certificate for her child.
Though children born in the United States are entitled by law to U.S. citizenship regardless of the immigration status of their parents, Texas authorities have begun placing significant barriers to undocumented immigrants seeking to obtain birth certificates for their U.S.-born children.
Hundreds of immigrant parents along the southern Texas border have been denied birth certificates for U.S.-born children since 2013, immigrant advocates say, as state authorities have made it more difficult to use alternative identification documents from parents who have no access to U.S.-issued papers.
The denials have happened in the past but stepped up significantly after the Obama administration in 2012 expanded its efforts to protect millions of immigrants from deportation, according to lawyers who have filed a lawsuit arguing that the Texas policy is unconstitutional. A second program, proposed by the White House in 2014, would extend deportation protection in some cases to parents of children born in the U.S. a result of this situation, hundreds, and possibly thousands, of parents from Mexico and Central America have recently been denied birth certificates for their Texas-born children,” said the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Austin.
State officials say they have always been reluctant to use identity documents that are not backed up with reliable forms of identification.
“We monitor local registrars for compliance. If we encounter a local registrar that is accepting identification that doesn’t qualify, we’ll let them know,” said Chris Van Deusen, spokesman for the Department of State Health Services, which supervises the roughly 400 local registrars around the state that issue birth certificates.
At issue is a state policy, which immigrant advocates say has been enforced with greater vigor since 2013, declaring that state registrars cannot accept the identification cards, popularly known as matriculas, issued to foreign nationals by their local consulates.
Another lawsuit by people using more services of our country that they do not want to accept as their own and prefer to stay here illegally. Is that even legal for them to do?