VICTORY: TEXAS TO STOP DENYING US-BORN, CITIZEN CHILDREN THEIR FULL CITIZENSHIP RIGHTS
After more than a year of litigation, immigrant mothers and State of Texas reach agreement on birth certificates case
San Juan, TX—After more than a year of litigation, we reached an agreement with the State of Texas to guarantee that all US-born, citizen children born in Texas can receive birth certificates, including those born to undocumented moms. To discuss the victory, we will have a press conference on Monday, July 25, at 12:30 PM at LUPE’s San Juan office, located at Cesar Chavez Rd and Business 83.
The following is a statement from Juanita Valdez-Cox, Executive Director of La Union del Pueblo Entero:
We all value the guarantee that our U.S.-born children will unquestionably be citizens of the United States of America and that they will have the constitutional freedoms and protections that citizenship entails. With this settlement agreement, the State of Texas has agreed to change Department of State Health Services policies governing issuance of birth certificates to be in line with the Constitution's 14th Amendment guarantee that children born in the U.S. are granted full citizenship.
This is a critical victory for immigrant families, but it is also a victory for the constitutional rights of all of us. Questioning the citizenship of U.S.-born, citizen children of immigrant parents erodes our constitutional freedoms and protections, causes instability for parents and children, and undermines the guarantee that all of our children will unquestionably be citizens.
In Texas, that policy has officially ended, thanks to the courage of the immigrant mothers who spoke up against the state's discriminatory policy; thanks to the over 48,000 individuals who showed their support for these mothers by signing petitions to the State of Texas asking the state to cease this practice; and thanks to the tireless work of TCRP and TRLA representing the constitutional rights of these little ones.
The courageous actions of these mothers should be an inspiration to us all. Their fight to obtain the birth certificates of their children is also a fight to protect the guarantee that all our US-born children will unquestionably be citizens of the United States of America.
In 2013, Texas changed the rules regarding what forms of ID a parent may present to obtain a birth certificate for children born in the state and began refusing to accept the two forms of IDs that are most commonly held by undocumented immigrants in Texas:
- a matricula, which is issued by the consulate to Mexican nationals living in the U.S.; and
- all foreign passports without a visa.
The rule change was seemingly motivated by concern and anger over President Obama’s executive action to protect Dreamers from deportation as well as the influx of unaccompanied minors from Central America.
Last year, with co-counsel at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Texas Civil Rights Project sued Texas on behalf of dozens of babies and undocumented moms who could not get birth certificates after Texas changed the rules. TRLA and TCRP also represented LUPE on behalf of our many members unable to access the birth certificates of their US-born, citizen children.
Under our agreement, Texas will now accept:
- A Mexican voter registration card, which Mexican nationals living in Texas can obtain from their local consulate;
- Official certifications of identification issued by the consulates for El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras; and
- A wide range of supporting documents, including church records and some expired IDs.
If you have been denied a birth certificate and would like to learn more about how this victory applies to your situation, call the LUPE office closest to you and ask to speak to the community organizer.
State officials pledged to undertake significant efforts to train local registrars on the new rules in the coming nine months. Additionally, the State will run a hotline for anyone who is wrongly turned away by local registrars.
In the next nine months, we will work with state officials to educate the public and train local officials on the new rules — and ensure that babies from immigrant families receive official recognition of their U.S. citizenship.