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Federal Judge Rules Children Born In U.S. May Be Denied Birth Certificates -- For Now

The fact of their birth in an American hospital seems to be of no concern.
Federal Judge Rules Children Born In U.S. May Be Denied Birth Certificates -- For Now

Maybe this is too simple of a thing for a court. If you're born in a hospital or some other place located in the United States, you get a Certificate of Live Birth saying that you were born in said hospital or anywhere else on United States soil at a certain time in a certain place. Because you are a living, breathing human being, that certification also goes to the state, so that said birth can be confirmed and established as a record that also affirms your citizenship.

It's really irrelevant who your parents are. What matters is that you emerged from a womb into the world and the place where you did that is the United States.

That seems simple enough to me, but apparently it is more complicated than that.

In Texas, if you're brown and your parents don't have the right paperwork, you might not get that birth certificate.

A federal judge has chosen for now not to force Texas health officials to change their stance in denying birth certificates to immigrant families with U.S- born children, saying that the families raised "grave concerns" but more evidence is needed, according to a ruling issued Friday.

U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman in Austin denied an emergency injunction on behalf of immigrant families seeking birth certificates for their children after the Department of State Health Services refused to recognize as valid certain forms of identification.

The families' lawyers had asked for the judge to intervene, saying that the children's right to health care, travel, and schooling--along with parental rights--are being harmed.

Pitman called the arguments of the families "heartfelt, compelling and persuasive," but said that this was "not enough without substantiating evidence to carry the burden necessary to grant relief," according to the ruling.

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.


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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," he said. "As such, Texas has a clear interest in protecting access to that document."

But again, Your Honor, a birth certificate simply certifies that a child has been born on United States soil, and under the United States Constitution, that child is entitled to be considered a United States citizen, regardless of that child's parents' origin and citizenship.

Why is this so difficult? I imagine the next stop will be the appeals court, and then the United States Supreme Court. Meanwhile, those families have little babies that carry no identity.

I'll bet they'd get more compassion from Texas if they were still fetuses. Priorities.

Update: For those of you making the point that this judge was appointed by Obama, please note the primary trajectory for lawyers and judges these days. Law school is expensive, so you go where the scholarships and fellowships are.

Another Obama nominee never made it through the process, sadly enough. Goodwin Liu was probably one of the most gifted (and liberal) judges to be nominated, and ultimately had to withdraw his nomination because of Republican opposition in the Senate. He now serves as an associate justice on the California Supreme Court, but would have been an excellent federal judge. Unfortunately, Republicans made sure that didn't happen.

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