Texas can — for now — continue to deny issuing birth certificates to the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants, a federal judge decided on Friday.
If you remember, a group of undocumented immigrants sued the state because it refused to issue birth certificates saying certain types of identification cards issued by foreign governments could not be used.
The parents of the American children argued that Vital Statistics offices were refusing to accept a matrícula, an ID card issued by Mexican consulates across the country, and a foreign passport without a U.S. visa as valid forms of IDs. Those identifications, the parents argued, are the most commonly available to illegal immigrants living in the U.S.
U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman in Austin was considering whether to force the state to accept those types of IDs while the case moved through the courts.
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, 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 summary, although the Plaintiffs have provided evidence which raises grave concerns regarding the treatment of citizen children born to immigrant parents, this case requires additional determinations which can be made only upon development and presentation of an evidentiary record which thoroughly explores the facts and circumstances of the issues raised in this case.”
So, for now, Texas can continue to deny birth certificates to U.S.-born children of immigrants, pending a decision in this case.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement that this ruling was an “important first step in ensuring the integrity of birth certificates and personal identity information.”
He went on: “Before issuing any official documents, it’s important for the state to have a way to accurately verify people are who they say they are through reliable identification mechanisms. We will continue defending DSHS’s policy on safeguarding Texans’ most sensitive information and vital documents.”