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Texas’ denial of birth certificates being challenged in court

By Joey Gomez
Rio Grande Guardian

WESLACO, Rio Grande Valley – It’s not up to Texas to discriminate against immigrants and their children.

That’s the message from attorneys for Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, Inc. and the Texas Civil Rights Project who have filed a civil rights case on behalf of six U.S. citizen children and their immigrant parents that alleges unconstitutional discrimination, as well as unconstitutional interference with the federal government’s authority over immigration affairs.

A lawsuit names the Texas Department of State Health Services, Vital Statistics Unit, together with its Commissioner, Kirk Cole, and Unit Chief, Geraldine Harris, as defendants, according to a complaint that was filed in the United States District Court, Western District, and Austin Division on May 26, 2015.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiff children were born in Texas to immigrant parents. Their parents requested birth certificates at local vital statistics offices, and presented their citizen child’s hospital birth records and social security cards.

The parents also provided official proof of their own identities, such as passports and consular photo identification cards, commonly called Matriculas, which have been previously been accepted forms of idenfication, that have now been rejected.

“What they are saying is that if you’re undocumented but have a U.S.-born child, we are not going to give you birth certificates anymore,” said TRLA attorney Jennifer Harbury. “It would certainly seem to be vindictive from a nation against the surge of immigrants even though the women that are in our complaint have been here for many years, one of them for nearly 20 years.”

Parents lacking proof of their U.S. citizenship or legal status have been denied the birth certificates of their own children. Harbury said the issue stems from an internal memo at the state level that…

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