Federal judge gives Texas thumbs-up to continue denying citizenship to children of undocumented immigrants

A federal judge ruled on Friday that Texas can continue to deny children of undocumented immigrants birth certificates as a lawsuit continues to work its way up the legal ladder.

Specifically, the state can continue to refuse to accept a certain form of ID, the matrícula, which is issued by Mexican consulates and is popular among undocumented immigrants, when deciding whether to issue a birth certificate to the child of an immigrant. Since states can now, apparently, decide whether to issue a birth certificate to the child of an immigrant. A group of parents have sued Texas for refusing to accept this form of ID, arguing that its refusal to issue birth certificates to their American-born children violates their 14th Amendment rights to citizenship and the Supremacy Clause. As birth certificates are necessary for all kinds of major life events, from enrolling in school to becoming baptized, the plaintiffs are arguing (rather convincingly) that their children are being relegated to second-class citizenship. And as the 14th Amendment is pretty clear that anyone born in the United States is a citizen, it should override any Texas Department of State Health Services policy that suggests otherwise.

This latest ruling isn’t an endorsement of Texas’s policy, per se, but it does side against the plaintiffs while the lawsuit runs its course. Even as the judge issued the order, he wrote that he was “troubled” by the fact that American-born children were being denied birth certificates, since “a birth certificate is a vital and important document.”

As NPR reported:

The judge said that without a doubt, Texas-born children of undocumented immigrants are being hurt by the Texas decision. Their constitutional right to travel and free exercise of religion by way of baptism are being curbed.

In his opinion, [US District Judge Robert] Pitman said he was “very troubled” by the prospect of Texas-born children being denied a birth certificate.

Still, he said, a birth certificate is an important document and Texas has an interest in “protecting access to that document.” The state has a right, he said, to make sure that that the types of IDs they accept are valid and reliable and other governmental agencies, like the FBI, have expressed concern about the reliability of the the matrícula.

In a brief filed in the case, Mexico argued that, despite what the FBI thinks, the matrícula is more reliable than other forms of ID that Texas accepts for birth certificates. It further reminded the court that “friendly nations” have a history of accepting passports and other government-issued IDs from foreign nations in order to identify foreign citizens.

Nevertheless, Pittman concluded that Texas can continue being bad at democracy rejecting the matrícula while the facts of the case are borne out.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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12 Responses to “Federal judge gives Texas thumbs-up to continue denying citizenship to children of undocumented immigrants”

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  2. goulo says:

    I think I’m missing your point – what did you want to “challenge” her about? Are you saying that identifying as a Latina is somehow inappropriate, or incompatible with being a US citizen, or incompatible with being a government employee?

    If so, I don’t see how, any more than it would be somehow wrong for a US citizen/employee to identify as black, or white, or Christian, or gay, etc.

  3. mf_roe says:

    Maybe my point would be clearer if I had used the pejorative “W*t Back”

  4. mf_roe says:

    it does say “”, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof,” which the anti-immigrant crowd wants to use as justification. Their argument is that the foreign citizen parent is subject of their origin country until they become legal and that the children should inherit that status. With the current justices I don’t think that it is as black letter law as you think.

  5. mf_roe says:

    “Stranger in a Strange Land” and NOT Vonnegut—— Heinlein. Over reliance on spell check again.

  6. mf_roe says:

    “Stranger in a Strange Land” and NOT Vonnegut—— Heinlein. Over reliance on spell check again.

  7. emjayay says:

    Reminds me of when I was at a week-long government employee training in Arizona. One of the staff who ran the sessions for some reason (I don’t remember the context) told the class she “identified as a Latina.” She was a career Interior Department employee, as was her father.

    Sometimes we maybe bring a little of it on ourselves. I still regret sitting there and not challenging her on this.

  8. fry1laurie says:

    There are no “but”s in the citizenship paragraph of the 14th Amendment.

  9. emjayay says:

    I think you mean grok, from Vonnegut novel or something?

  10. mf_roe says:

    Gronk this, the Articles of Confederation failed because of just that flaw, the Constitution was a very conscious effort to subjugate states efforts to evade the power of the central government. The pattern existed before the blueprint.

  11. BeccaM says:

    I think I’m beginning to see a pattern here, and it’s one where we’re seeing time and time again that it’s a bad idea to leave civil rights up to the states. Especially now, when we have Republicans whose attitude has become, “What Constitution? What law? It’s all whatever we say it is.”

    This is bigger than just immigration (which is pretty big all by itself). From marriage law to voting rights to basic recognition of citizenship, it’s a chaotic mess and it’s getting worse.

  12. mf_roe says:

    I want defend Texas, I will defend many Texans who don’t think the State is right. The problem in Texas is that there is NO Immigration policy in Washington and the Hodge-podge of laws governing immigration is used by both national parties as a cornucopia of wedge issues to manipulate their flocks.

    Trust me, you don’t want Texas to decide this issue, people can live here for six generations and they are still “Mexicans”.

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