Monday, March 1, 2010

New Law in Puerto Rico Invalidates Previously Issued Birth Certificates as of July 1

"Law Nullifying Puerto Ricans' Birth Certificates Shocks Many"
By SUZANNE GAMBOA
The Associated Press
Published: Saturday, February 27, 2010

"A law enacted by Puerto Rico in December mainly to combat identity theft invalidates as of July 1 all previously issued Puerto Rican birth certificates. That means more than a third of the 4.1 million people of Puerto Rican descent living in the 50 states must arrange to get new certificates.

The change catches many unaware.

Julissa Flores, 33, of Orlando said she knew nothing about Puerto Rico's law.

'I was planning a trip and, now, I don't know,' she said. 'Do I need to go get a passport? If my birth certificate is invalid, am I stuck here?'

People born in Puerto Rico, a U.S. commonwealth, are U.S. citizens at birth. Anyone using a stolen Puerto Rico birth certificate could enter and move about the U.S. more easily, which could also pose security problems.

Puerto Rico's legislature passed the law after raids last March broke up a criminal ring that had stolen thousands of birth certificates and other identifying documents from several different schools in Puerto Rico...

Thus far, there seems to be little effort by the U.S. or Puerto Rican governments to educate the 1.5 million people born in Puerto Rico and living on the mainland about the new law.

Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., has been getting a steady stream of calls about the law at his district office. Serrano - who must replace his birth certificate, too - said he is trying to provide answers without triggering a panic.

'No one has thought about what effect this could have, if any, on those of us born in Puerto Rico who now reside in the 50 states,' Serrano said.

McClintock said a news conference held in Puerto Rico in December did not draw national media attention he hoped would spread the word. He noted there is no deadline for getting a new birth certificate. After July 1, the government will issue a temporary, 15-day certificate for those who need a birth certificate in an emergency.

The State and Homeland Security departments are deciding what to do for passport applicants with invalid birth certificates, State Department spokeswoman Adriana Gallegos said...

Conchita Vallecillo, 66, of Fairfax, Va., read about the new law in a Puerto Rico newspaper. She thought her age exempted her. 'I didn't think we would be affected, so it's one of those things that you don't pay attention to,' said Vallecillo, whose husband and four children also were born in Puerto Rico.

There is no exemption for age."

Read the complete article: http://www.theledger.com/article/20100227/NEWS/2275051?p=3&tc=pg

No comments: