Undocumented immigrants residing in the United States have had to deal with a number of issues. The stance of U.S. authorities when it comes to immigration policy is a source of frustration for immigrants. Recently, immigrants in Texas are voicing out their frustrations with a policy that is effectively preventing their U.S. born offspring from gaining birth certificated. Under the 14th amendment, children who are born on U.S. soil qualify for citizenship status. Now, thanks to a policy that prevents these children from acquiring their birth certificates, the path to citizenship and the benefits associated with it are being shuttered.
The federal lawsuit filed by several Texas immigrant families identifies Kirk Cole, the Texas Department of State Health Service’s Vital Statistics Unit commissioner, and Geraldine Harris, the unit chief as the defendants in the case. The plaintiffs in the case claim that the defendants mentioned in the lawsuit have willfully discriminated against their Texas-born children by singling out their parents’ immigration status. In the past, immigrants were able to procure an ID called the “matrica consular” from the consulates of their own countries. This ID was used to fulfill a vital requirement to acquire birth certificates for U.S. born children of immigrants. Now, officials no longer accept the matrica consular as a valid ID to secure birth certificates. The plaintiffs of the lawsuit allege that the defendants in the case acted with malice and knew that the immigrants’ lack of access to other types of identification would effectively prevent their children from gaining birth certificates and U.S. citizenship.
Initially, the lawsuit only had four mothers as plaintiffs but other immigrant families have stepped up and joined the legal battle. The plaintiffs are being represented by lawyers from the Texas Civil Rights Project, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, and the South Texas Civil Rights Project. The challengers in the lawsuit allege that a vital statistic officer admitted that the sudden shift in policy was made to purposefully increase the difficulty of obtaining citizenship status for U.S. born children of immigrants. The move has deprived these children of the benefits associated with citizenship which include considerable educational opportunities, health benefits, and even employment options. As the lawsuit continues to gain traction, more immigrant families are coming forward with stories that back up these claims.