Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Single fathers without visas are not fathers, according to state rules

Tennessee withholds recognition of parenthood

At a time when American institutions are rightly realizing that immigration law has to be considered in a balance, and in that balance immigration can be and is often less important than other rights and legal responsibilities such as equal protection and the right to marry, the
Tennessean reports here that state rules currently put immigration ahead of identifying the parents of a newborn baby. Unvisaed single fathers are being barred from appearing on their newborn child's birth certificate:
In a flurry of pain, excitement and tears, her 7-pound, 1-ounce daughter, Christina, entered the world by emergency Caesarean section. Hours later, Baptist Hospital staff told Hernandez and her then-fiance that his name would not appear on Christina's birth certificate.

It wasn't the hospital's choice. State policy requires unmarried fathers to present government-issued identification or proof they're in the country legally to be listed on birth certificates. And in 2006, Tennessee stopped issuing driving certificates to illegal immigrants.

The pair of unrelated policies is spawning broader emotional, legal and social implications.

Hernandez, a U.S. citizen who works in hospice care, said she doesn't see the correlation between immigration status and fatherhood.

"Now my daughter has a father who loves her and no legal rights where she is concerned, no legal responsibility and no legal recognition that he gave her life," she said.
Even the pundit who the Tennessean quotes as being in favor of the rule calls it "weird."

For related commentary, see The Misery Strategy, the Doomsday Clock, and the Great Immigration Panic.

Photo: from this scene in Back to the Future. The character on the "Enchantment Under the Sea" dance floor who tries to separate George McFly from his future wife Loraine (thus threatening the existence of Michael J. Fox's character Marty McFly) is identified in the script as "Obnoxious Kid."

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