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Proof of Lawful Presence

Discussion in 'Other Governmental Matters' started by Civilian101, Nov 16, 2018.

  1. Civilian101

    Civilian101 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Hello,

    Today, my friend and I went to the RMV in MA to get her a Mass I.D. card (not a driver's license and not a REAL ID, just a normal Mass I.D. card). All she currently has for a state issued photo ID is her N.Y. driver's license that expired several years ago. In order to renew her driver's license she needs to retake the written test, driver's test, eye exam, etc., so in the meantime we figured it's just easier to get a Mass I.D. since she doesn't even drive right now. If you're wondering, she moved from NY to MA a few years ago but never officially changed over her license.
    We did our research online before we went to the RMV. For the proof of residency she used a recent credit card statement to her MA address, which the RMV accepted. For proof of lawful presence she used her Certificate of Birth Registration, which the RMV did not accept.

    Here's my dilemma. The RMV insisted that her "Certificate of Birth Registration" is not a legal document, it's a hospital record. But, in fact, it is a legal document (I'll post pictures below) because it is not from the hospital, it is from the New York State Department of Health signed by the Registrar of Vital Statistics, and it has an official raised seal from the NY Onondaga County Department of Health.
    I researched the requirements for an official document for proof of lawful presence. The requirements include a raised, embossed, impressed, or multicolored seal and a signature from the registrar. It must also include the full name of the person, the date and place of birth, the date it was filed and issued, and the parents names.
    I contacted the NY State Department of Health and it will cost up to $70 to get a certified copy of her birth certificate unless she does it by snail mail, in which case it's still about $45. What I don't understand is what does this birth certificate prove that the certificate of birth doesn't already prove? They're both legally issued certifications from the government stating all the same information. In fact, on the back of her certificate of birth registration, it states "This record is proof that your child's birth was registered. Please keep it in a safe place, since it may be used as proof of age and citizenship." What is the point of having this government issued document that says it can be "used as proof of age and citizenship" if the government suddenly decides it can't be used as proof of citizenship? Am I missing something here? The lady at the RMV said "it says it may be used, that doesn't necessarily mean that it can be used". The definition of "may" is certainly ambiguous, I'd love to see how her argument holds up in court. It could mean "possible", but it could also mean "permission". I would argue that this statement is giving permission to use the document as proof of citizenship.

    Here is the document:
    upload_2018-11-16_19-54-14.png
    I blacked out sensitive information. Also, you can't see the raised seal, but it is right where my fingers are touching. It is a raised circular seal with the worlds "SEAL" in the middle and "ONONDAGA COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH" written around the outside circle.
    Here is the back (a little fuzzy, and the bottom half was cutoff in the picture):
    upload_2018-11-16_20-1-57.png
    The first sentence states "Please keep it in a safe place, since it may be used as proof of age and citizenship". Further down it says the "original birth certificate is on file at the New York State Department of Health, Vital Records Section, Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12237" (that part was cut off in the picture) - the same department that signed and sealed the document she has! What am I missing here? I've written to the Massachusetts government to get an explanation, but in the meantime I'm curious if any of you have insight on this matter.
    Has the RMV refused a legal document of citizenship? What action can people take if they're wrongfully denied, or if a government agency refused a government-issued document? I spoke with two supervisors at the RMV, neither of them acknowledged my comments about the raised seal and signature from the NY State Department of Health / Registrar of Vital Statistics, instead they just kept repeating that is says "Certificate of Birth Registration" and not "Birth Certificate" or "Certificate of Birth" ...
    If this government issued document (from the NY State Department of Health that states it may be used as proof of citizenship) is not accepted, what the hell is the point of this document in the first place? And why does it state that it may be used as proof of citizenship? I know that this may not seem like a big deal compared to other people's issues posted on this site, but I simply don't understand why my friend's government issued certificate was refused.

    Thank you.
     

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  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    To explain the differences between the two would require me to type far too many words.

    The MA state authorities have given you what is needed to obtain a MA ID.

    The person presents the REQUIRED documents to have the state issue the ID.

    Another option might be to return to NY and see if NY state will issue a state ID card.

    The time has long passed when Vesuvius Mountain can become Venus Planet easily.

    Do what the state of MA requires, or there will be no MA state issued ID card.
     
  3. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Try another RMV office and see if she can slip through the bureaucratic cracks.

    If not, she'll have to get the document that the RMV says to get.
     
  4. cbg

    cbg Super Moderator

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    If you are asking whether the RMV has violated any laws, or if there is any legal action you (or rather, your friend; legally you have no dog in this hunt) can take that will force the RMV to accept the documents she has already presented, the answer to both is No.
     
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  5. Civilian101

    Civilian101 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Yes. Thank you. That is one of the questions, and I suppose knowing that there's nothing she can do about it makes the other questions less significant. Beyond knowing if the RMV had violated any laws, I'm curious about why this government-issued document states that it may be used as proof of citizenship, yet when it came time to show proof of lawful presence it was denied by a government agency. But if you're certain that no laws have been broken, I guess we'll just have to live with being confused about what the purpose of this document is. For 30 years, this document has been what she's used as her birth certificate and it has never been denied until now. Oh well. We'll spend the $70 dollars for a copy of the birth certificate and then try to figure out what information is different...

    Thank you for taking the time to respond.
     
  6. cbg

    cbg Super Moderator

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    Because nothing in the law says that the RMV is required to accept it. It is up to them to decide what documents THEY find acceptable. Just because another agency accepts it (for that matter, just because another agency issued it) doesn't create an obligation for the RMV to do likewise.
     
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  7. Highwayman

    Highwayman Well-Known Member

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    Hardly. This has nothing to do with you.
     
  8. KatDini

    KatDini Well-Known Member

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    Since the document is from New York, and the RMV isn't, then... o_O
     
  9. Highwayman

    Highwayman Well-Known Member

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    Interesting, since it is NOT a birth certificate. Maybe she thought she could use it that way, but it is not a birth certificate. I don't know what's so unclear about that.

    She's been lucky all these years I suppose.
     
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  10. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    I heard about this dude, I forget his name, who became President of the USA claiming he was born in Hawaii by showing something he called a "certificate of live birth"; rather than what my wife, my kids, my grands, and I possess a "birth certificate".

    Ain't that something, mate?

    Anyway, that "certificate of birth registration" must be like that guy who became president by using his "certificate of live birth".
     
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  11. Civilian101

    Civilian101 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you for the clarification, and again thank you for taking the time to respond. Your feedback has been the most helpful and least judgmental. I'm not an expert of law, so your willingness to explain the reasoning without making me feel stupid is very much appreciated.

    Some of the other responses are quite distasteful.
     
  12. Civilian101

    Civilian101 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Sorry we don't have your expertise, Highwayman. When you have a document that has been accepted as a birth certificate for your entire life and then suddenly is denied, it's actually a very confusing experience.
    As we've done more research on the topic it turns out a lot of people have experienced this - many people have been able to get their passport with their "Certificate of Birth Registration" being accepted as their birth certificate (including myself, but I didn't realize it wasn't actually my birth certificate either), so it's a confusing situation because of the inconsistencies of who accepts the document.
     
  13. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Active Member

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    You are missing that each jurisdiction sets its own standard for what it will accept. The NY document says that it may be used as proof of citizenship — an accurate statement as far as that goes, since there are some instances where it will be accepted for that purpose, specifically in NY. The problem is, NY doesn't control what the federal government or other states will accept for proof of citizenship. Each jurisdiction gets to decide what it will accept. What the MA RMV has said it will accept for proof of lawful presence is (1) a U.S. passport or (2) a certified copy of a U.S. birth certificate. That is required for both the standard ID and the REAL ID versions of a driver's license or state ID card. The document she wished to use is not one of those two things. And that's the problem.

    Sure, in NY, the document she has is pretty much as good as the birth certificate. But MA doesn't want to sort out for every state what each kind of document is functionally the same as a a certified copy of the birth certificate. So to make things simple (and easier on the state employees who have to process it) the state has limited what it will accept to the passport and the certified copy of the birth certificate. See the MA government page on identification documentation that spells out what is accepted by MA. So your friend needs one of those two things. The RMV is not violating any law here and your friend could not force the state to accept the document she has. And even if she could, it would cost her a whole more to litigate it than it would to pay NY the $70 or $45 to just get the certified copy of her birth certificate. Or she could get a passport and solve her problem that way.
     
  14. Civilian101

    Civilian101 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you, Tax Counsel, for helping put it in perspective. Your response is very helpful, and I appreciate the thoroughness. Between you and CBG, all questions have been answered. Thank you for taking the time to provide your input.
     
  15. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    If you hang around here an hour or two, pal, you'll see many things exceedingly worse than mere "distasteful".
     
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