Texas Cuts a Deal With Kids of Immigrants

SAN ANTONIO (CN) — Texas agreed to settle a lawsuit from immigrant parents that will make it easier for their U.S.-born children to receive birth certificates.
     Backed by civil rights and immigration attorneys, parents from Central American and Mexico sued the Texas Department of State Health Services in 2015 for violating the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which guarantees the right of citizenship to children born here.
     Maria Isabel Perales Serna et al. claimed Texas had a policy of denying birth certificates to Texas-born infant children of undocumented immigrants.
     U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman dismissed the case Monday, pending enforcement of the new agreement during the next nine months.
     The agreement requires DSHS to accept documents that include a Mexican voter registration card, official certifications of identity issued by the consulates for El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, and a wide range of supporting documents, including church records and some expired IDs.
     The legal battle was triggered in 2013 when Texas began refusing to accept the two most common forms of ID used by undocumented immigrants in Texas: a matrícula card, which is issued by the consulate to Mexican nationals living in the U.S., and all foreign passports without a visa.
     “This is a critical victory for immigrant families, but it is also a victory for the constitutional rights of all of us,” said Juanita Valdez-Cox, executive director of the immigration group La Union del Pueblo Entero.
     “With this settlement agreement, the State of Texas has agreed to change Department of State Health Services policies governing issuance of birth certificates to be in line with the Constitution’s 14th Amendment guarantee that children born in the U.S. are granted full citizenship.”
     Immigration attorneys said the rule change was spurred by the influx of unaccompanied minors from Central America, and President Obama’s executive action protecting millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation. The president’s immigration plan was blocked by a deadlocked Supreme Court in June, leaving in place a lower court decision against it.
     A status report on the settlement is due in Federal Court on May 1, 2017.

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