Undocumented parents of U.S citizen children have had an uphill battle for over a year when it came to obtaining their child’s birth certificate in the state of Texas. County officials had amended requirements for immigrants seeking a child’s birth certificate to include that along with their foreign passport, they also needed a valid U.S. visa. Texas also removed a Mexican “marticulas” as a valid form of identification. Prior to these changes undocumented parents would be able to obtain copies of their U.S. citizen children’s birth certificate with their Mexican “matriculas.”
Under the U.S. Constitution, all children born in the United States are U.S. citizens. In effect, the state of Texas’s actions created a scenario where undocumented parents were unable to obtain a birth certificate for their child unless they had a valid visa. U.S. citizen children would be hindered from obtaining proof of their citizenship!
In May 2015, a group of undocumented parents sued the State of Texas on the basis that without birth certificates, they were not able to fulfill some of the basic needs for their child. For instance, they were unable to have them baptized or even register for school. A judge denied a preliminary injunction in October 2015 that would have forced the state to issue birth certificates while the case proceeded. However, the judge made comment that this case did raise “grave concerns regarding the treatment of citizen children born to immigrant parents.”
Texas argued that it was not denying these children citizenship by regulating how birth certificates were issued or by omitting matriculas as an acceptable form of identification. The Mexican government voiced their opinion by authenticating matriculas as a reliable form of ID and added that they recently upgraded them to include electronic chips as well as other security features to help prevent counterfeiting.
In late July 2016, both parties were able to reach a settlement in which Mexican nationals will now be allowed to use voter registration card, issued by Mexican consulates, as a valid form of ID. Also, parents from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are allowed to use consular documents to obtain birth certificates. While the state of Texas has agreed to create a review process for parents who have been denied in the past, the judge will also be monitoring the state’s implementation until mid-year 2017 to ensure they are complying with the new rule.