The Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Commissioner Kirk Cole issued a response to my letter concerning the state refusing to issue birth certificates to persons born here in the United States.
DSHS stated that nothing has changed in recent years on the types of identification required for the issuance of a birth certificate and in fact, in 2010, their internal handbook was revised to specifically state that the official matrícula consular card cannot be accepted. While this policy may not have changed, the implementation of this policy has most certainly changed. For many years, the matrícula has been used as a satisfactory form of identification in many field offices statewide, specifically in the Rio Grande Valley.
As an example, many of the plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit against DSHS, as well as others who have come forward, had easily been able to obtain a birth certificate for their U.S. born child prior to 2014 using a matrícula. It was only in 2014 when parents were suddenly told that it was no longer accepted as a valid form of identification. It is also my understanding in speaking with DSHS, that they have no direct control over their field offices, so that implementation of this policy would seem to me to be hard to assess. While this may have been a policy, it was not enforced consistently.
The response by DSHS also does nothing to present a solution to this problem. If the matrícula will no longer be accepted, what is the alternative? The problem will persist and U.S. born children will continue to be denied their citizenship. These children were born in the United States, are United States citizens, and are entitled to receive their own birth certificates.
While protecting the identity of Texans and securing vital records is of the utmost importance, the state is simultaneously denying the child citizenship rights. It is critical we find a solution such as alternative documents including a baptism certificate, a hospital birth record, or similar documents.
We cannot continue a process that creates a severe disadvantage for these children with respect to medical care, school enrollment and other benefits these children are entitled to on the basis of their U.S. citizenship. We need to protect the child’s rights as a citizen provided under the United States Constitution.
Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa proudly represents the counties of Nueces, Jim Wells, Brooks, and Hidalgo (part). Senator Hinojosa served as the Senate President Pro Tempore of the Texas Senate in the 84th Texas Legislature. Senator Hinojosa currently serves as Vice-Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and serves on the Senate Committees on Natural Resources & Economic Development, Criminal Justice, Agriculture, Water & Rural Affairs as well as the Legislative Budget Board (LBB), and the Sunset Advisory Commission.