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What Are the Rights of Undocumented Mothers?

“You’ve got to be kidding!” ~ Once again, Texas refuses to comply with federal law. This particular issue involves a refusal to provide birth certificates to babies born in Texas by undocumented mothers. Without birth certificates, citizenship with its related benefits disappears. For example, getting medical attention, enrolling in school, and obtaining legal assistance becomes difficult, if not impossible. These children become citizens of “nowhere” with no status, no benefits, and no protections.

According to International Business Times, in 2011 lawyers filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of six mothers. The years-old lawsuit asserts that the Texas Department of State Health Services prevents undocumented mothers from protecting their children. The rationale for this policy claims that the mothers lack proper documents. However, some of the mothers have older children who received birth certificates in previous years. The mothers’ documents did not change. Only the policy changed. As of 2015, this policy continues.

The attorney representing the mothers firmly believes the current version of the law places Texas in an unconstitutional position. Hospital records and social security numbers granted at the time of birth prove citizenship. Although in the past, the legal status of the mothers met requirements, officials now tell mothers to return to Mexico to get voter registration cards. For most, returning to Mexico invokes great danger and virtual impossibility. According to Valley, “We are making it impossible for these women to get the legal proof they need to take care of their children, and we are denying U.S. citizens, Texas-born children, their basic rights.”

In a current lawsuit (May 2015), more than a dozen undocumented mothers assert that they still face the Texas refusal to issue birth certificates to their children. Once again, “The U.S. Constitution states that people born on U.S. soil are citizens of the United States regardless of the legal status of their parents.”

When Texas denies birth certificates to babies, the state essentially condemns the children to second-class status. From the first breath of life, the babies lose the promise of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” A life of second-class citizenship does not look pretty or promising.

Last I heard, Texas still maintains membership in the United States. Take a look at the young boy proudly holding an American flag. Do we dare strip him of his legal federal rights? No joke. This is federal law. Texas — please do the right thing!

Works Cited

Crandall, Brett. “Lawsuit: Texas withholding birth certificates of citizens born to immigrant parents.” Valley Central. May 27, 2015.

Crandall, Brett. “Texas Withholding Birth Certificates of Citizens Born to Immigrant Parents.” News Taco. May 28,, 2015. legal

Sneed, Tierney. “Undocumented Moms: Texas Is Denying Birth Certificates to Our U.S, Born Kids.” TPM News. May 2015.

Wright, Bruce. “Texas Immigration 2015: Birth Certificates Not Issued for Children Born to Undocumented Immigrants, Lawsuit Claims” International Business Times. May 28, 2015. (source of picture)

Yu-Hsi Lee. “Undocumented Parents Cold Have Applied for Immigration Relief By Now, If Not for Republican Lawsuit.” M. May 19, 2015.


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