While Donald Trump has been on the campaign trail championing immigration laws, local Texas officials have been in the thick of enforcing rules regarding what kind of ID parents can show to receive copies of their children’s birth certificates.
The regulations in place mean that many children of undocumented immigrants are being refused the issuance of birth certificates, and it’s preventing parents from getting their newborns baptized, enrolling children in school and day-care, as well as making them afraid of losing out on Medicare coverage as well as other government benefits. Not only that, but it can also prevent parents from working; one immigrant with a 9 month old daughter says that because she can’t enrol her daughter in day-care, she can’t get a job because there’s no one at home to watch the baby.
In response to these problems, a lawsuit has been filed with plaintiffs from Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras – 28 parents and 32 children in total. According to Efren C Olivares, a lawyer with the South Texas Civil Rights Project who is representing the parents in the suit, they’re only a small number of the potential thousands of parents facing the same issue who haven’t come forward.
“We’ve had people who’ve come to us asking for help,” Olivares said, “but they didn’t want to join the lawsuit because they’re afraid. They don’t want the potential repercussions of coming out publicly as undocumented.”
Local registrars in Texas used to accept IDs with a photograph from immigrants that were issued by foreign consulates even though they were not actually accepted by policy, and it was only in 2013 when Austin state officials started tightening the screws on protocol that they became an invalid form of ID.
However, Texas officials say that parents’ immigration status has nothing to do with determining whether or not their children are given a birth certificate. According to them, the consular IDs are not a secure form of identification because the consulate offices that issue them don’t verify the documents presented to obtain the IDs, even though other states like New Mexico accept them. In fact, birth certificates don’t seem to be an issue in many other states; California has no policies on consular IDs, Nevada accepts the hospital birth records that Texas does not, and Arizona will issue birth certificates to parents without valid ID if they have a witness to vouch for them. Jennifer K Harbury, a lawyer representing the children in the lawsuit, says “There’s no other state that has locked people out the way Texas has.”
If you would like more information about the birth certificate regulations in the state of Texas, or if you have had problems with obtaining a copy of your child’s birth certificate due to your immigration status, please get in touch with Daniella Lyttle at Lyttle Law Firm. You can send your inquiries via the website or you can call 512-215-5225.