The state of Texas has agreed to expand the types of documents immigrant parents can provide to obtain birth certificates for their children born in the United States, settling a lawsuit filed by immigrant families. The lawsuit was filed after the state stopped accepting foreign identification cards provided by a consulate, leaving many undocumented parents with no way to obtain birth certificates for their American-born children. A birth certificate is essential for receiving the full rights of U.S. citizenship. The settlement allows parents from Mexico to use a voter identification card obtained from Mexican consulates in the U.S., and parents from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras can use identification documents certified by their consulates. Dallas-area immigration attorney John W. Lawit believes this groundbreaking decision represents the beginning of the end of the denial of birth certificates to the children of immigrants or sometimes even U.S. Citizens:
Texas is singularly the most difficult state in the U.S. to get birth certificates for U.S. citizen children born to undocumented immigrants. The issuance of Texas birth certificates seems like a never-ending battle. Up until now, each parent would have to file a lawsuit in federal court to get a hearing regarding the citizenship of the child. Sometimes the issue would be raised in the context of an application for a U.S. passport or through an application for the issuance of a birth certificate by the State of Texas.
These lawsuits are common in the counties that form our border with Mexico. The cost of such litigation is staggering for most; so many children never get the opportunity to demand their birthright citizenship.
With this settlement, Texas is taking the steps to give children a meaningful opportunity to obtain a birth certificate without having to resort to litigation.