LATINO VOICES
07/23/2015 07:13 pm ET Updated Sep 23, 2015

Texas Denies Birth Certificates To U.S.-Born Children Of Undocumented Parents

What Texas is doing is unconstitutional. It’s also unconscionable.

Undocumented parents in Texas are having a tough time obtaining birth certificates for their U.S.-born children, the LA Times reports.

The Lone Star state has prohibited registrars from accepting matriculas, local consulate-issued identification cards, in lieu of a U.S. driver's license or visa as a valid form of identification, according to a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Austin. These tightened measures have made it virtually impossible for parents to obtain birth certificates for their U.S.-born children, and [has] prompted several families to file a lawsuit against the state in May.

Birth certificate denials have happened before, but the lawyers who represent the parents named in the suit note an increase after the Obama administration expanded its efforts to protect millions of immigrants from deportation in 2012. "As a result of this situation, hundreds, and possibly thousands, of parents from Mexico and Central America have recently been denied birth certificates for their Texas-born children," said the suit.

Texas officials said they have always been reluctant to use consular identification cards. Chris Van Deusen, spokesman for the Department of State Health Services said to the LA Times that officials provide birth certificates without regard to the requestor's immigration status, but they don't accept matriculas because underlying documents are not verifiable. Texas isn't the only state to deny birth certificates to children of undocumented immigrants. Arizona lawmakers have also tried to pass measures that would make it difficult for undocumented parents to obtain birth certificates for children born in the U.S.

According to Efren Olivares, a senior staff attorney with the South Texas Civil Rights Project who is representing more than 50 plaintiffs suing the state over this issue, his clients aren’t trying to force state officials to accept matriculas. They just want the the state to accept any form of identification--period. “If the state doesn’t like it, they can take something else,” Olivares explained in an interview with HuffPost Live Wednesday. “We don’t need them to take the matricula, as long as they take something that our clients can realistically obtain, that way they can a birth certificate for their children.”

The 14th Amendment grants anyone born in the United States the right to U.S. citizenship, regardless of the immigration status of the child’s parents.

Without a birth certificate, parents cannot register their children for school, youth sports teams nor can they travel outside of the country. A birth certificate is also needed to apply for everything from jobs to a driver’s license and even a marriage license. Texas's refusal to grant birth certificates to the children of undocumented immigrants directly takes away many of the rights these children deserve as U.S. citizens.

For more information regarding the case, watch the entire HuffPost Live segment provided above.

UPDATE: 9/23, 6:00 p.m. -- This post has been updated to reflect additional information obtained from the video above. 

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