A Federal judge ruled Friday that the state of Texas may continue denying the issuance of birth certificates to U.S.-born children of immigrant parents.
U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman said that although the families raised “grave concerns,” in their petition seeking an emergency injunction, it was “not enough without substantiating evidence to carry the burden necessary to grant relief,” according to the court’s decision.
The lawyers representing the immigrant families sought an injunction compelling the Texas Department of State Health Services to issue U.S. birth certificates to protect the children’s right to health care, travel, and schooling, as well as parental rights, they argued.
The Associated Press reported:
At issue is the acceptance of identification cards—known as matriculas consulares—issued by Mexican consulates to citizens living and working in the United States. Lawyers for the families contend that prior to 2013 they were able to present these document, as well as foreign passports without U.S. visas in them, and obtain birth certificates in Texas.
The judge said in his ruling that attorneys had not shown that health officials had improperly “focused on and excluded” these documents. The judge also questioned the integrity of the information behind the consulate identification cards and passports.
“A birth certificate is a vital and important document,” Pitman said. “As such, Texas has a clear interest in protecting access to that document.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said that although he will continue to represent health officials as the case winds its way through the appeals process, Pitman’s decision was “an important first step in ensuring the integrity of birth certificates.”
The lawsuit against the Department of State Health Services’ Vital Statistics Unit was initiated by 28 adults and their 32 children last May, and are represented by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid attorney Jennifer Harbury.
Harbury said in a statement that Texas has a responsibility to create a path for the children to gain access to birth certificates.
“It may not,” she said, “establish an obstacle course for these children alone.”
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