Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Ay Bendito in Puerto Rico!

If you are the holder of a birth certificate from Puerto Rico-- BEWARE! As of July 1, 2010, your validly issued birth certificate will be null and void. The Puerto Rican Legislature enacted Puerto Rico Law. No 191 (formerly Senate Bill 1182) last December, in response to concerns about Puerto Rican birth certificates commanding high prices in the black market, following the break up of a crime ring which trafficked in Puerto Rican identity documents.

Because a Puerto Rican birth certificate in prima facie evidence of U.S. citizenship, these documents, of course, have immigration implications for those who use them. At present, the federal government is deciding how to handle U.S. passports issued to persons who use Puerto Rico birth certificates to prove U.S. citizenship. However, it seems like the Puerto Rican legislature has gone too far with this law. Not only are all the pre- July 1, 2010 birth certificates invalid (without exceptions for older Puerto Ricans, etc.), but Puerto Ricans are now prohibited from surrendering custody of a certified copy of a birth certificate to any person, public or private entity, they will only be allowed to present such certified copies to the agencies, and they cannot be retained by the person, public or private entity under any circumstances. The law sets forth penalties for violations of the law.

More than half the Puerto Ricans in the mainland U.S. were born in the island. This law will affect them all. To apply for a Puerto Rican birth certificate under the new law, see http://www.salud.gov.pr/Programas/RegistroDemografico/Documents/Birth%20Certificate%20Application.pdf.

To view a copy of the law, see in Lexis Nexis 2009 P.R. ALS 191;2009 PR Laws 191;2009 P.R. S.B. 1182 "Act to Prohibit the Retention, Keeping on Record and keeping under Custody of Certified Copies by Public and Private Entities."

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