Shock, confusion after birth certificates voided

Suzanne Gamboa reports:

Native Puerto Ricans living outside the island territory are reacting with surprise and confusion after learning their birth certificates will become no good this summer.

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.

[…]

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.

[…]

As much as 40 percent of the identity fraud in the U.S. involves birth certificates from Puerto Rico, McClintock said he was told by the State Department.

“It’s a problem that’s been growing and as the need in the black market for birth certificates with Hispanic-sounding names grew, the black market value of Puerto Rican birth certificates has gone into the $5,000 to $10,000 range,” McClintock said.

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.

Read more in the Palm Beach Post.

Puerto Rico flag photo by Orangejack, Flickr, used under Creative Commons license.

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