Border

Baby with no country, no religion due to birth certificate dispute with migrant mom

Woman denied birth certificate

EL PASO, Texas - A woman living in El Paso claims El Paso County is refusing to give her a birth certificate for her U.S. born baby because she is in the U.S. illegally and doesn't have the proper identification.

The devout Catholic can't baptize her baby because the has no birth certificate. 

"Baptism, I am Catholic, so the religious act is important to me," she said.

Carolina, a native from Mexico, says she's been trying to baptize her baby girl for a year.

"Carolina" is not her real name; because she is in the U.S. illegally she asked ABC-7 to keep her identity confidential.

Before she can have her baby baptized, the Catholic Church says it must see a birth certificate.

Father Pablo Mata, a local Catholic priest, is now taking up her cause.

"Why would anybody think of not giving them a birth certificate. They were born here, they're American citizens," said Fr. Mata.

Carolina says the county clerk won't issue the document because she doesn't have identification the office requires. (See list at the bottom of this article.)

The county has a list of options which includes some foreign IDs.

ABC-7 asked Carolina why it is important for her to have the birth certificate.

"Because I need to identify her as my baby. Because there are people who don't know she's mine, and I'm afraid someone will take her away from me," Carolina said.

Fr. Mata says Carolina's situation is not unique.

"I suspect, but I also know for a fact that yes, there are other women and other families that are going through this situation," said Mata.

In fact, in 2016, the state of Texas settled a lawsuit after denying birth certificates to children born in the U.S. to undocumented parents. 

As a result, the state expanded the type of IDs it accepts.

Still, Carolina she doesn't have one that qualifies and getting other documents is hard because of her undocumented status.

Previously, immigrants in Texas could request birth certificates for their children if they had two secondary forms of ID, including Mexican voter registration cards and foreign IDs with a photo, according to a 2016 article from the Texas Tribune.

In the agreement, the state said it would accept voter ID cards received by undocumented immigrants in Texas by mail under recent changes to Mexican law. Until earlier this year, the Mexican voter registration cards could only be obtained in Mexico.

Carolina responded to critics who say she only wants U.S. benefits for her baby.

"I am not a person who came from Mexico to have kids here. I was already here when I became pregnant and had a baby. It's not to obtain benefits," she said.

A spokesperson with the Mexican Consulate in El Paso said they will provide legal assistance for Carolina so that she can obtain the proper documents.

The Consulate says with those documents, Carolina can get the birth certificate for her baby in order to eventually have the baby baptized.


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