A civil rights lawsuit has been filed against Texas' Department of Health Services for refusing to issue birth certificates to children born in the state whose parents are illegal immigrants.

17 families of Mexican and Central American undocumented immigrants have joined together in the suit against the state, one parent saying her two-year-old has been denied her birth certificate five times.  According to the 14th Amendment, anyone born in the country is a U.S. Citizen, but officials from the state are refusing the birth certificates, stating that the parents don't have the proper identification.  The families are being represented by Jim Harrington from the Texas Civil Rights Project, who said that this affects more people than he realized,

People never really came forward until we filed a suit.  Then all of a sudden it was like the doors opened and just maybe a couple hundred people so far have come forward talking about how this happened to them.

For over one hundred years, Texas has required parents to request a birth certificate from the local or state offices where an official I.D. is necessary to complete the request.  According to Chris Van Deusen, spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services, this is done to prevent identity theft.  Many undocumented immigrants have a matrícula consular, an identity document issued by Mexican consulates in the United States, but it is not considered a secure identification and therefore not a valid ID in Texas.  The attorney for the children, Jennifer Harbury, noted that most families were able to use a matrícula to get their children's birth certificates until recently, and that the new matrícula, issued last year, is seen as a secure document,

If this really was about security of identification then it doesn't make sense to ban the new matrícula at all.  So to me there's another agenda here.

Parents who are not able to obtain their children's birth certificates are unable to register their children for school or apply for benefits for their child.  In some cases, parents unable to present their child's birth certificate may not be able to approve medical treatment for their child.  Attorneys argue that the denial of the state to issue the birth certificates is a violation of the 14th Amendment and is discrimination, a claim that  Chris Van Deusen disputes,

The act of getting a certified copy of a birth certificate doesn't create someone's citizenship or doesn't negate that citizenship.  Anybody born in Texas is a United States citizen, and I don't think that's in dispute by anybody involved in this.

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