The Mexican government today will start issuing birth certificates to its citizens at consulates in the United States, seeking to make it easier for them to apply for US work permits, driver's licenses, and protection from deportation. Until now, Mexico has required citizens to get birth certificates at government offices in Mexico. Many of those in the US ask friends and relatives back home to retrieve them, which can delay their applications for immigration or other programs. Now, even as Republicans in Congress try to quash President Obama's reprieve, Mexico is trying to help them apply for programs that would allow them to remain temporarily in the country and continue sending money back to relatives across the border. "It is a huge help. It helps individuals really begin to formulate their formal identity in this country," says the director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.
Starting today, the country's 50 consulates in the United States will be able to access data maintained by regional governments in Mexico and print birth certificates at the consulates. Consulates should be able to issue birth certificates for nearly all birthplaces in Mexico, but some rural villages where documents are not digitally recorded may not be covered. One advocate for tighter immigration controls says Mexico is trying to make it easier for its citizens to stay because of the money they send home—$21.6 billion in 2013. She says the integrity of birth certificates is critical because they are used to issue key identity documents like passports. "If we can trust the Mexican government to do its due diligence and establish a system with integrity, then this will work and it is up to us to make sure we are communicating with them about what we need to see in terms of integrity," she said. "That is a big if." (Read more Mexico stories.)