On Monday, July 25th, 2016, the state of Texas passed legislation which will make it easier for undocumented workers to get birth certificates for their United States born children. The state agreed to do this by allowing more documentation options that these parents can more readily access, making it easier for their children to obtain necessary governmental and medical services where birth certification is required.
This agreement by the state comes after a lawsuit was filed against them by undocumented parents from the countries Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. These parents were arguing that the state was unfairly denying their children access to birth certificates by restricting what type of documentation was necessary to receive them.
The parents made the case that the absence of birth certificates made it difficult for them to enroll their kids in school, health programs, and other governmental services which would be beneficial to their overall well-being.
Over the past few years, Texas legislators have made it more difficult for undocumented immigrants seeking to obtain birth certificates for their children, by placing increased restrictions on the types of presentable alternative documents.
At the time, Texas officials were not accepting foreign passports without visas, or photo id’s that were given to them by Mexican consulates in the United States. These restrictions were due to a large number of Central American immigrants who had migrated to the Rio Grande Valley area. According to the New York Times, 34,289 immigrants have moved into this area of Texas since October of 2015.
Texas officials will now accept a wider array of documentation from undocumented parents seeking to get birth certificates for their children. The new forms of documentation accepted include: marriage licenses, school transcripts, and Mexican voter identification cards. People from Central America can use temporary identification from their country’s consulate.
Mexican voter identification cards were acceptable before this current legislation, but undocumented parents were reporting some difficulty with officials who were refusing to accept them.
The Texas Department of State Health made the argument the Mexican consular identification cards were not “secure identification.” However, the plaintiff’s attorney said they will now be updated with microchips to ensure their security.
Birthright citizenship for children of undocumented immigrants has become a hot button issue during this political season. Donald Trump and other Republicans have been questioning the Fourteenth Amendment which gives people who are born in the United States the rights of American citizenship.
Jon Feere, legal policy analyst at the conservative Center for Immigration Studies based in Washington, D.C., is quoted as saying “This is yet another example of how our institutions are being asked to accommodate foreigners who think they are above the law.” Clearly the view that these undocumented immigrants are stealing from American citizens is not a minority view in the state of Texas.
But many in the state, particularly those of Hispanic descent, are pleased with the changes in acquiring birth certificates. Juana Gomez, a Mexican undocumented immigrant, is quoted as saying “”It’s just about respecting what is in the Constitution.” And the Constitution clearly states “With liberty and justice for all.”
Immigration attorney April Cockerham commented, “While of course something can be done to set the standard for proper border control, it seems unfair to actively punish those who are here by making their lives as difficult as possible, which is why this Texas legislation is a small step forward for the lives of the undocumented and their children born in the United States.”