Now Texas is denying citizenship to children of immigrants

Even though it is 100% unconstitutional, a couple of Texas border counties have been systemically denying U.S. citizenship to children of undocumented immigrant women. A group of women have filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Texas Department of State Health Services alleging discrimination and interference with federal immigration authority:

Jennifer Harbury, a lawyer with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, who is representing the women, said the deluge of birth certificate refusals began last winter. “I’ve never seen such a large number of women with this problem,” she says. “In the past someone might be turned away, but it was always resolved. This is something altogether new.”

Apparently local officials in Cameron and Hidalgo counties — both of which are on the Rio Grande Valley — haven’t been accepting foreign identification documents as proof of mothers’ identities when requesting birth certificates, even though the state allows the use of these in the case that there is no U.S. identification. And, once again, denying children who were born in the United Sates citizenship to this country is against the 14th amendment of the constitution. But what’s a little thing like state law and the constitution to get in the way of righteous bigots, am I right?

In addition to this being an immigrants’ rights issue, it is also very clearly a reproductive justice issue, interfering with immigrant women’s ability to raise their children with safety and dignity. The reproductive justice picture is grim in Texas in general, but in the Rio Grande Valley, a border community with many immigrants and farm workers, things are especially rough. Reproductive health services are incredibly difficult to access for immigrant women in the Rio Grande Valley — whether we’re talking about a lack of access to reliable public transit, long delays at clinics with free or low-cost services, and continued closures of clinics.

Fortunately, the immigrant women organizing on behalf of reproductive justice in the Rio Grande Valley are some of the most badass women among whom I’ve ever had the honor to organize. Immigrant women in the Rio Grande Valley have been fighting back against attacks on reproductive justice for years, and they’re certainly not stopping now.

Image credit: Nuestro Texas

New York, NY

Verónica Bayetti Flores has spent the last years of her life living and breathing reproductive justice. She has led national policy and movement building work on the intersections of immigrants' rights, health care access, young parenthood, and LGBTQ liberation, and has worked to increase access to contraception and abortion, fought for paid sick leave, and demanded access to safe public space for queer youth of color. In 2008 Verónica obtained her Master’s degree in the Sexuality and Health program at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She loves cooking, making art, listening to music, and thinking about the ways art forms traditionally seen as feminine are valued and devalued. In addition to writing for Feministing, she is currently spending most of her time doing policy work to reduce the harms of LGBTQ youth of color's interactions with the police and making sure abortion care is accessible to all regardless of their income.

Verónica is a queer immigrant writer, activist, and rabble-rouser.

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