Texas Blockade of Latino Birth Certificates Ends

Miami, UNITED STATES: Marta (R) comforts her weeping US born daughter Stephanie as they stand in front the US Federal Courthouse in Miami, Florida, 04 October 2006. Lawyers representing some 60 mostly latin children presented a motion before the court in an effort to stop the deportation of the children's parents who reside in the US illegally. The lawyers argue that the basic human rights of the children would be violated if their parents are deported. Marta is one of some 12 million illegal immigrants living in the US, according to estimates by the PEW Hispanic center in the US. AFP PHOTO/ROBERTO SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)

In 2013, the State of Texas adopted new procedures making it almost impossible for the undocumented immigrant parents of children born in Texas to obtain birth certificates for their kids. This move was seen as part of a campaign by anti-immigrant politicians to deny U.S.-born Latino children their citizenship rights under the 14th Amendment.

Under the Constitution, anyone born in the U.S. is a citizen of this country, with the exception of the children of certain diplomats. The children of undocumented immigrants are no different. However, activist lawyers for several hate groups came up with a strategy of denying access to the birth certificates of these children in order to deny them their rights as U.S. citizens. If a person can’t prove American citizenship, then he or she could be treated as an undocumented immigrant even though born here.

Advocates for immigrants sued Texas to halt this illegal denial of birth certificates. This week, they reached a settlement with the state that will ease the issuance of birth certificates. A variety of forms of identification will now be accepted for the certificates. This will make it easier for the children to enroll in school, obtain IDs, and access public programs only available to citizens.

While this settlement appears to close this sorry chapter, it is just the latest example of the effort by those opposed to immigrants to punish the American citizen children of the undocumented. Those politicians who attack children to get at their immigrant parents are the worst kind of cowards.

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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.