Texas Denied Birth Certificates To Babies Of Immigrant Mothers, Because The 14th Amendment Is Clearly Just A Suggestion

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immigrationEverything is bigger in Texas, including violations of the United States Constitution, apparently, because some Texas officials have allegedly been refusing to issue birth certificates for babies born in the U.S. to immigrant mothers.

Just as a refresher, the 14th Amendment begins:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

The United States has citizenship by birth. If you were born in the U.S., you are a U.S. citizen, and you get all the good things that comes along with that. That is true even if you are not white, and even if your parents were not citizens. But over in Texas, several women have filed a suit against the Texas Texas Department of State Health Services, maintaining that their Texas-born children have been illegally refused birth certificates.

According to The Texas Observer, employees at the Cameron and Hidalgo county bureaus of vital statistics allegedly refused to hand over the birth certificates on the grounds that the women did not have the right form of identification. Texas law allows foreign ID to be used for this, but the bureau employees allegedly told the mothers that they would no longer be accepting either the “matricula consular, which is a photo ID issued by the Mexican Consulate to Mexican nationals living in the U.S.” or foreign passports without valid visas.

This reportedly started happening to immigrant mothers last winter, according to Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, which is representing the women in the suit.

A woman without a birth certificate for her child can’t enroll the baby in school or authorize medical treatment in emergencies. Without a birth certificate, she can’t even really prove that she is the baby’s mother. And this has allegedly been happening to a lot of women. Dozens of women allegedly came forward after the suit was lodged and said they were denied birth certificates for their children for the same reasons.

“I’ve never seen such a large number of women with this problem,” said TRLA lawyer Jennifer Harbury. “In the past someone might be turned away, but it was always resolved. This is something altogether new. … They are locking out a huge chunk of the undocumented immigrant community”

James Harrington, an attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project, says they are pursuing a court order to make the bureau of vital statistics accept the matricula consular and foreign passports and give these babies their birth certificates.

Whatever your position on immigration reform, the 14th Amendment is not a guideline. It is not a “theory.” It is part of the U.S. Constitution, and that means those babies are U.S. citizens whether you like it or not. Now Texas needs to give these U.S. citizens their birth certificates.

(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)