Thursday, August 26, 2010

My New Birth Certificate

When I picked up my mail today, I found my new birth certificate issued by the Registro Demográfico de Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico’s Demographic Registry). As María Pabón López wrote some weeks ago, every person born in Puerto Rico who needs a birth certificate for any purpose was required to obtain a newly-issued official copy.

I have a recently-issued passport and foresee no reason to need the certificate. But I wanted to see how the process would work, given the expected high demand for the new documents, especially from those of us Boricuas on this side of the Atlantic.

The process was fairly painless and even efficient. On July 29, 2010, I filled out the application online in the site set up for this purpose by Puerto Rico’s Department of Health, which includes the Demographic Registry. I paid the modest five dollar ($5.00) fee online and waited until yesterday to receive the document. Now, less than a month later, I have my crisp new certificate in hand.

(To visit the official site to file the request go here:

But I still find it outrageous that the Puerto Rican legislature caved in to pressure from federal executive officials and passed the law that required us to get the new documents. This is yet another example of the absurdities of colonialism. If the federal officials had told, say, Florida government officers that every one of its citizens had to get a new birth certificate, the outcry about the absurdity of such a requirement and its accompanying cost to taxpayers would have derailed such a ridiculous request. But Puerto Rico does not have sovereignty to refuse such a request, and it also lacks two senators and half a dozen or so members of congress who would have called those executive branch employees to Capitol Hill to publicly rake them over the coals for even making such a ridiculous request. Federal executive overreaching is simply one of the defining characteristics of colonialism. ¡Ay bendito!

1 comment:

  1. I, too, was floored when I read about the Puerto Rican birth certificate debacle. Fortunately, you have a passport as identification and could afford to wait a month before your newly issued birth certificate arrived. Unfortunately, for those Puerto Ricans, such as Alfredo Pagan of Ohio (see link below), who need to obtain a driver’s license to get a G.E.D, find work and support a family, one month could mean the difference between making ends meet and living on the streets. Even though the “old” Puerto Rican birth certificates will still be valid for another month, Ohio has stood firm on their stance and simply stated they’re not valid in Ohio. A quote from the article that affected me the most was Alfredo’s mom, stating the obvious:

    "We're not illegal aliens, we are citizens of this country," Torres said. "We have everything, all the documents and all that, but we are not treated as such."

    This is, of course, pure speculation on my part, but I couldn’t help but wonder, as the article suggested, if recent sentiments against immigration (legal and illegal alike, particularly against Hispanics) and Arizona’s SB-1070 Bill, have contributed to this arm-twisting from the federal government. I also can’t help but wonder how many other falsified birth certificates come from the other 50 states or other U.S. territories. This cannot be the first birth certificate falsification ring in existence.

    I agree with you 100% that Florida lawmakers would put forth a tough fight if all Floridians had to obtain new birth certificates – at least I hope so.

    -Jesika D.


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