2016 Archives

Birth certificate rule change frustrates


The following is from a column by Mercedes Olivera published in the Jan. 8, 2016, edition of The Dallas Morning News. SMU Law Professor George Martinez provided expertise for this story.

January 12, 2016

By Mercedes Olivera

An issue that started in 2015 and will continue into this new year promises to be a flashpoint for many undocumented families in Texas.

Marco Malagón was a proud new father when he went to the Dallas County clerk’s office three months ago to get his baby’s birth certificate.

His joy quickly turned to frustration.

“They asked for a visa, and I don’t have one,” he said.

As part of the state’s policy in effect for all county clerks these days, parents must now produce U.S.-issued documents for themselves before they can get a birth certificate for their children born here. A Mexican Consulate-issued matrícula consular will not be accepted anymore, as it had been throughout the state for several years. . . 

The Texas Department of State Health Services policy is now being challenged in court by a group of 30 Rio Grande Valley parents, and the lawsuit is expected to go to trial sometime this summer.

George Martinez, a law professor at Southern Methodist University, said he believes the state will lose because it is pre-empted by federal law from interfering with federal immigration matters.

“Texas cannot have its own immigration policy,” Martinez said by email. “In addition, the courts will very likely find that Texas is engaged in unconstitutional discrimination against these persons seeking birth certificates. Texas is denying them the equal protection of the law.”

He said the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does indeed ensure that children born here are U.S. citizens. And if Texas were to appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, it “would likely lose.”

If Texas were to win, he said, “it would destroy rights long recognized under our constitutional law. It would be a terrible decision leading to the oppression of these children who are American citizens.”

Read the full column.


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