The U.S. Constitution reserves the responsibility of writing immigration laws and regulations to Congress. This reservation means that the states cannot pass their own laws regarding immigration if those laws conflict with any federal laws. Additionally, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution provides that any person born in the United States is automatically a U.S. citizen. It seems that the state of Texas disagrees with the Constitution.
Recent reports have been made that Texas counties have all but repudiated birthright citizenship for children who are born to undocumented foreign nationals by circumnavigating the law and requiring that parents present a U.S. driver’s license or similar documentation in order to obtain a child’s birth certificate. Read on to learn more about this disturbing trend.
How Texas Denies Birth Certificates
According to Ms. Hiram Ramirez, a Mexican national who entered the U.S. without inspection and has lived in Texas for several years, it used to be very easy to obtain a Texas birth certificate. For her two older children, Ms. Ramirez simply presented her Mexican voter registration and consular identification card, and the state official issued the birth certificates. But when she went to the vital statistics office to obtain the birth certificate for her newborn daughter, Ms. Ramirez’s request was denied because she was not in possession of a U.S. driver’s license.
Unfortunately, Mrs. Ramirez’s situation is not an isolated incident. Immigrant advocacy groups have reported that since 2013, Texas has denied birth certificates to hundreds of foreign national parents by requiring applicants to present U.S.-issued proof identification. Since it is exceedingly difficult bordering on impossible for undocumented foreign nationals to obtain such proof, Texas has successfully avoided its obligation to issue birth certificates to date.
Foreign Parents Fight Back
Foreign parents are now fighting back on Texas’ practice, and lawyers sympathetic to their cause have filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Austin. The lawsuit charges that the Texas practice is unconstitutional and violates the rights of the U.S. citizen children. The lawsuit also charges that the policy is little more than a discriminatory and political tactic and requests that the District Judge issue an order to force the state agencies to follow federal law.
The plight of these foreign national parents has thankfully caught the attention of state lawmakers, who just this week have gone on record stating that the policy is unconstitutional and cannot continue. One lawmaker, State Senator Juan Hinojosa, made an excellent point when he called attention to the fact that U.S. citizen children who do not have birth certificates will encounter extreme difficulties when the time comes for them to enroll in school and access medical care.
This move by Texas represents a disturbing obstacle to the nation’s overall goal of reaching comprehensive immigration reform. Divisive actions such as these merely work to further delay the progress on this critical issue. Continue to check back with our blog for the most up to date news on this lawsuit and all other immigration-related issues.
Additional Blog Posts:
The Government’s War on H-1Bs, ImmigRantings, October 11, 2012
Obama Signs Immigration Executive Order, ImmigRantings, June 15, 2012
Problems with the H-1B visa: From Work Horse to Show Pony, ImmigRantings, February 13, 2012