AUSTIN, Texas – Today, MALC leadership met with Department of State Health Services Commissioner Kirk Cole and staff to discuss the denial of birth certificates to the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants.
“This issue is a high priority for the members of MALC, and we anticipate that it will be part of the heated rhetoric expected in the upcoming legislative session,” said MALC Vice Chairman Rep. Eddie Rodriguez.
A lawsuit was filed in Federal Court by the parents of 32 U.S.-born children in May 2015, on the grounds that the 14th Amendment rights of these children were being violated. The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution is unequivocal in bestowing citizenship to those born in the United Sates.
One issue dominating the conversation is whether parents can present their Mexican-consulate issued ID, known as a matricula consular, as one means of identification to obtain a birth certificate for their child.
“No section under Texas’s Health and Safety Code mandates that the Department require verification of immigrant status or national origin before the issuance of a birth certificate to the parents of an American-born child,” said Rep. Ana Hernandez. “This is why it is important that the matricula be accepted as a form of ID or that accommodations for immigrant parents be provided.”
The matricula is currently not listed as one of the acceptable forms of ID in the DSHS handbook — a rule Rep. Mary Gonzalez questioned changing.
Acknowledging that the rule is not codified, Rep. Gonzalez said, “Rules can be changed. Especially when our children — American citizens — are being affected and endangered by them.”
The denial of these birth certificates is one symptom of a much bigger problem for MALC, added Rep. Armando Martinez.
“We have to ensure there are no intentional or unintentional obstacles for children of color when it comes to basic rights like obtaining a birth certificate.”