Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins has asked the Department of State Health Services to resolve a controversial birth certificate policy the Democrat said could adversely affect North Texas students’ ability to enroll in school later this month.
In June, the Dallas County Clerk’s office stopped accepting a Mexican ID called the matrícula consular as proof of identity for non-citizens seeking to obtain birth certificates for their U.S.-born children. The IDs are commonly used by undocumented immigrants who don’t have access to other forms of identification, like a driver's license or visa.
“All children are precious and children born in this country are U.S. citizens entitled to the rights and privileges of citizenship regardless of who their parents are,” Jenkins said in an email Wednesday. “I have reached out to [the Department of State Health Services] and we are committed to working with them and everyone to resolve these issues and get our children the documents they need. It's particularly important this process be improved with school starting in two weeks.”
The Texas Education Agency website says that all Texas children have the right to a free and public education and only need to provide proof of residency and immunization records to enroll. But Jenkins' concern is the lack of a birth certificate could complicate the process.
A spokesperson for the state health department said the agency didn’t have any comment about Jenkins’ request.
The same birth-certificate policy is in place in some border counties and has resulted in a lawsuit filed in May by 19 immigrant parents against the state health department. The lawsuit alleges the agency, which sets the statewide policy on how to obtain vital records, is infringing on the 14th Amendment rights of the children because they are U.S. citizens and should not be denied the birth records.
Though Dallas County made the change recently, others have rejected the matrícula consular for years. El Paso County stopped accepting the ID in 2008 after it was made aware that the state health department didn’t consider the ID a secure document.
Dallas County Clerk John F. Warren told The Texas Tribune he couldn’t confirm exactly when his office was made aware it wasn’t following state guidelines.
“In a recent audit of our business processes, it was discovered that we were not in compliance with the guidelines from Texas Department of State Health Services,” he said.
Jenkins added that Dallas County’s Parkland Hospital aids parents in obtaining birth certificates for the children born there.
“We don't need outside documents to know who gave birth to whom at our county hospital,” Jenkins said.
Disclosure: Parkland Hospital is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.