Is No Identity Better Than A Potentially Fraudulent One?

Texas Attorney General and con-artist Ken Paxtonif that is his real name — insists we have to protect the children of non-citizen mothers from identity fraud — by refusing to issue them birth certificates:

A federal judge on Friday repeatedly asked an attorney for the state of Texas if denying birth certificates to dozens of U.S.-citizen children is an appropriate response to a problem whose scope is still unknown.

U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman heard oral arguments in a lawsuit filed by a group of undocumented parents and their U.S.-citizen children against the state Department of State Health Services, which has effectively blocked the children from obtaining birth certificates.

The families allege that the department has violated the children’s constitutional rights by ordering local county registrars to stop recognizing Mexican consular IDs — known as a matrícula consular — and foreign passports without valid visas, as proof of identification that the parents may use to obtain the vital records. The state argues the documents are susceptible to fraud.

“Is this a solution in search of a problem?” Pitman asked assistant attorney general Thomas Albright, representing the agency, health Commissioner Kirk Cole and State Registrar Geraldine Harris. “What makes this burden necessary?”

. . .

Albright declined to speak to reporters after the hearing, but Attorney General Ken Paxtonreleased a statement shortly afterward.

“In this case, a birth certificate is the key to a person’s very identity, and these vital documents must be protected by requiring basic, common-sense forms of identification in order to obtain copies,” Paxton said. “With identity theft a growing national concern, now is not the time to relax our requirements and accept forms of identification that may not sufficiently prove that a requestor is who they say they are.”

Which seems plausible, maybe, until you realize that without being able to obtain a birth certificate, an American-born child of foreign parents has no way to prove her identity in the event of some other (more probable) form of identity theft. Not to mention the fact that these children need a birth certificate to obtain benefits that they are entitled to as citizens (although some local school districts have waived the birth certificate requirement for school enrollment).

In short, Texas is unnecessarily and over-eagerly creating a Catch-22 for immigrant parents of modest means (to be sure, some families can provide other forms of foreign identification that are considered secure). The assertion that the security of the matricula consular is inadequate is pretty weak. Furthermore, I fail to understand why a Mexican (or Guatemalan, or Salvadoran) passport suddenly becomes “unsecure” just because a visa has expired. Does your car suddenly become unsafe to drive because you forgot to renew your vehicle registration?

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