The State of Texas reached a settlement agreement with undocumented families who had sued after being denied birth certificates for their U.S.-born children.
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, the agreement specifies the Mexican voter ID cards and other ID forms issued by other foreign governments considered secure, could be used as a secondary form of ID. The Mexican voter ID cards are now being issued to Mexican citizens living outside the country.
In addition, DSHS is currently reviewing consular identification from Central American countries to be added as one of the acceptable forms. However, the Mexican consular ID cards or 'Matricula Consular' will not be one of the accepted forms of identification to obtain a birth certificate in the U.S.
More examples of supported documents has been added to the list of acceptable IDs.
Staff Attorney Emma Hilbert with the Texas Civil Rights Project who represented undocumented parents in the lawsuit consider the settlement a major victory. Hilbert said the plaintiffs in this lawsuit, included undocumented parents who had an acceptable form of ID but were turned away at their local registrars or didn’t have acceptable forms of ID required under Texas law.
She said the agreement will allow almost everyone to obtain a birth certificate, which children need for services, such as health and education.
According to DSHS, the agreement does not require any changes to DSHS’ current rules or policies.
"This agreement will allow the state to continue to provide necessary birth certificates to authorized people and do so in a way that maintains the security of state birth records. The purpose of the identification requirement is to ensure that individuals requesting birth certificates are who they say they are," Department of State Health Service spokesman Chris Van Deusen said.
Waco Immigration Alliance Co-leader Hope Mustakim said she thinks the change is a step in the right direction but it may not help everyone.
“"I think this change might influence a few people who didn't realize 'oh I have this one.' Maybe it will form a small percentage of people who didn't know they had this secondary form of ID but I think there is a larger population who their only form of ID right now is the Mexican ‘Matricula,’” Mustakim said. “It will help a fraction, but there are still going to be some people hanging in the balance.
The department also agreed to communicate about the acceptance of foreign documents to all local registrars and provide more training opportunities for them. Materials and the Local Registrar Handbook are expected to be updated to include information about acceptable forms of ID.
Mustakim said it is positive to have additional training of local registrars.
"Whenever people are more informed and educated and they try to make it a simpler process to get birth certificates."I think ultimately the problem is that we don't have a way for people to adjust their legal status so they're going to be coming into these hurdles," Mustakim said.
As part of the agreement, the state must designate a supervisor to resolve dispute of denials for birth certificates due to the lack of appropriate documents.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District had not been notified about changes associated with the settlement.
Spokeswoman Kelly Craine said on occasion they see undocumented parents who don't have all the documentation needed to obtain a birth certificate.
"Our goal is if anyone comes to get a birth certificate for their child and they don't have the correct documentation. We want to make sure they have the information to know exactly what they need to come back and get their birth certificate," Craine said.
If a parent doesn't have the right documents, the public health district employee talks them through that and find something that works for them.
She advises parents to go to the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District to inquire about requirements regarding the birth certificates
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