For nearly 150 years now the United States has recognized people born in the country as citizens regardless of the whether their immigrant parents are citizens. The state of Texas is now violating the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
In the last year, the state has refused to issue birth certificates to children who were born in Texas to undocumented parents. Four women have filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Texas Department of State Health Services asserting constitutional discrimination and interference in the federal government’s authority over immigration.
The practice of refusing to issue birth certificates is believed to be linked to the issue of unaccompanied Central American minors and mothers crossing the border from Mexico late last year seeking asylum.
According to the lawsuit, the women who requested birth certificates for their children at the state’s vital statistics offices in Cameron and Hidalgo counties were turned away due to insufficient proof of identities. The women were told the matricula consular –photo ID issued by the Mexican consulate to Mexican nationals living in the U.S. – would no longer be accepted as a form of ID. Central American mothers are being turned away because they only have a passport without a U.S. visa. Children are unable to be enrolled in school or daycare without a birth certificate and even unable to be treated in a medical emergency.
Jennifer Harbury, a lawyer with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, has mentioned that they have received dozens of call from mothers who have been refused birth certificates for their children. Harbury has mentioned they have recently had to file an amended lawsuit with several more plaintiffs.
James Harrington, an attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project, is also representing the undocumented families. The legal team is seeking a court order to reinstate the use of the matricula consular and foreign passports as valid proof of identity for undocumented mothers.
“Even in the darkest hours of Texas’ history of discrimination, officials never denied birth certificates to Hispanic children of immigrants,” said Harrington in a written statement. “Everyone born in the United States is entitled to the full rights of citizenship.”