The PJ Tatler

O'Malley: 'Citizenship Is a Human Right'

Responding to a Texas case in which state officials are asking that a federal court toss a birthright citizenship lawsuit, Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley declared today that “citizenship is a human right.”

Background on the case from the Associated Press:

Lawyers representing 19 immigrant parents and their 23 children filed suit against the Texas Department of State Health Services after officials refused to issue birth certificates for their U.S.-born children, citing invalid forms of identification. The parents came from Mexico and Central America and living in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, along the U.S.-Mexico border.

…The Texas Department of State Health Services said in a federal court filing in Austin on Wednesday that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the court lacks jurisdiction over claims against the state agency. Lawyers for the agency also argued that Texas has sovereign immunity and cannot be sued and that its policy does not interfere with any federal regulation. Texas, they said, has the “power to control the circumstances under which it will provide copies of birth certificates.”

The health service agency’s Vital Statics Unit, which is responsible for issuing birth certificates, previously accepted consular identification cards and other documents issued by foreign governments, according to the lawsuit. But officials have increasingly come to refuse these, making it harder for parents living in the U.S. illegally status to obtain birth certificates for their children, it said. The agency says it never accepted these documents as valid, and there has been no change to the state’s identification requirements.

O’Malley said “denying birth certificates to US citizens is not only outrageous, it’s unconstitutional.”

“The 14th amendment of the US Constitution could not be clearer. It states that ‘all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside,’” he said. “The Texas Department of State Health services should cease this discriminatory and unconstitutional practice immediately. Citizenship is a human right.”

The former Maryland governor last week released a plan to reform the country’s “inhumane” immigration system, declaring that “the enduring symbol of our nation is the Statue of Liberty, not a barbed wire fence.”

He would expand President Obama’s deferred action program and “conduct sustained nationalization outreach” while an Obamacare block for those temporarily legalized under deferred action.

Under O’Malley’s plan, “the only individuals who should be detained are those who pose a clear threat to public safety or national security” and he will “close or upgrade costly, inhumane, and violent detention centers.”