Anchor Babies: Texas Health Officials Deny Birth Certificates

A recent federal lawsuit brings into sharp relief what many Republicans and anti-illegal immigration groups call the “anchor babies” problem.

In Maria Isabel Perales Serna, et al. v. Texas Department of State Health Services, Vital Statistics Unit, et al., Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid challenged Dallas County’s policy of denying birth certificates to United States citizen children, whose parents are “illegal aliens.”

Although in the most recent ruling, on October 2, the district court declined to immediately enjoin Dallas County’s behavior at issue, the trial court expressed, “grave concern” for a policy that denies U.S. citizen children their most basic identification document, a birth certificate.  The judge set the matter for further hearings.  In the meantime the Dallas County policy will remain.  

Jennifer Harbury, an attorney with Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid representing the families, thanked the district court for its “thoroughness” but said the children still face harm while the families wait for a resolution.  Harbury said in a statement: “We also understand his decision to await a full trial upon all of the evidence before issuing an injunction on such a crucial matter. We worry, however, about the safety of many Texas children in the interim. Without their birth certificates they are having difficulty gaining access to basic services, including school and medical care.”

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