News 8 – Immigrant parents living in Texas without proper identification papers are suing the state for withholding birth certificates from their American-born children, in a tricky case that pits Texas’ strict ID laws against the 14th amendment of the Constitution. The lawsuit was filed in May in US District Court in Austin by a group of Mexican citizen parents living in Texas. The suit claims the state refused birth certificates for 23 children because the parents could not provide the proper photo identification under state law.
But the parents argue Texas is, in doing so, violating the 14th amendment, which guarantees citizenship to anyone born on US soil regardless of their parent status. The lawsuit does not outright say the parents are illegal immigrants, it strongly suggests it – at one point alleging the state is denying their kids birth certificates due to their “immigration status.” “Were trying to resolve the issue once and for all,” Efren Olivares, the plaintiffs’ lawyer who also works with the Texas Civil Rights Project, told Fox News. “Our two main objectives: obtain birth certificates for the 23 children and to obtain a clear statement from the state agency as to what people in this situation will have to produce in the future to get their birth certificate.”
The concept of birthright citizenship is controversial in its own right, with the illegal immigration foes concerned that undocumented parents are having children inside the U.S. to help their entire families stay in the country. But the right is nevertheless enshrined by the Constitution. Yet some illegal immigrant parents in Texas have had trouble getting upper certificate for their kids because they themselves lack the right papers.
In 2013, local jurisdictions stopped accepting consulate cards, called “matriculas,” understate pressure. Immigrants had been able to get matriculas from their home countries consulate in the state, but since have had to show their foreign drivers license or border ID card as primary verification. Passports without US visas don’t count. Advocacy groups point out that many illegal immigrants don’t have these documents and going back home to get them would probably mean they couldn’t return. The state, however, says the blocking matriculas is just a matter of enforcing its own rule.
Texas ID crackdown coincides with a boom in central American children being born in the state. Last year alone, more than 55,000 families came to the US from Central America. Three fourths of them went to Texas, according to the Los Angeles times. Jennifer Harbury, another lawyer for the plaintiffs, said Texas’ certificate denials are politically motivated. She told the Los Angeles times that they are part of the push back to the Obama administration’s 2012 deportation protections and 2014 proposals to protect immigrant parents with American-born children.
Texas’ Atty. Gen. is expected to respond to the lawsuit in the coming weeks.