Texas may not recognize

Written by
(Eric Gay / Associated Press)

Recently, a group of parents filed a federal lawsuit charging that the government of Texas wrongfully denied their children birth certificates due to the immigration status of their mothers, who are, in legal terms, “undocumented.” At issue was the validity of an identification document called the matricula consular, issued by the Mexican consulate to Mexican-born immigrants living in the U.S., which many mothers have used as proof of their U.S.-born children's citizenship and their family ties. This poem by Purvi Shah reflects on the meaning, and meaninglessness, of documents used to prove the humanity of parents and children in a world of blurred borders.

“You know, when it comes to obtaining a birth certificate, we certainly want people to be able to get the documents that they’re entitled to. However, we also have a duty to protect the personal information that’s on the birth certificate. We want to see a secure form of identification so that we are not giving certified copies of birth certificates to someone who shouldn’t have one, someone who’s not related to a child, someone who doesn’t have, you know, a reason to have that birth certificate.” – Chris Van Deusen, Texas Department of State Health Services, July 20, 2015


Texas may not recognize


its own birth by

its own rules. Once


called Mexico, once

called Spain, once


called the place of many

peoples. When we mark


a sequence of conquests

as erasures, can we believe


this parentage? Where

is the documentation for that land, deserts


delineated as a territory instead of a free-

      moving herd of sands, rivers


as a blockade instead of ferry of living souls. Texas

      is its own country but these days, the lone


star reminds you of lunch counters and poll

taxes and times your grandparents tried


to vote but found the registrars had too many                     questions,

times when even a whole                                            person could be counted as 3/5


of a non-



in this one country. We


want to protect your

status not to be


protected. We are,


some of us, tired

of following laws


when the laws make it


hard to be immunized, hard

to be educated, hard

to be counted whole, hard

to breathe and survive


in the body you were born

into, in the country you were born


into. We are less a country


founded on rights

than on unequal


paperwork. I listen


to my father mourn the days

when a patient was a patient


and not a customer. Someday, whether

in front of an HMO or a court or a boss

         or a border,


we will all become papers, drained

of horizon, drained of a body


touched as body. Borders,

we believe, may change


but documents are permanent, granting

immortal stamps after premature deaths.



A Message from Favianna Rodriguez

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