New policy for Native American delayed birth certificates in place
Policy offers temporary solution, future legislation will be necessary
STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Recently the Arizona Department of Health Services announced that there is a new, streamlined process to help Native Americans born before 1970 receive delayed birth certificates.
Before Department of Health Services Director Will Humble approved this temporary administrative solution, some of our country’s original Native American citizens – born at home or in the care of a traditional midwife in one of Arizona’s rural, remote Indian Nation areas – have been unable to obtain a state birth certificate. This made it difficult for some Native Americans to get a driver’s license, a social security card or to prove residency.
“Over the last few months, we’ve been working with tribal governments to develop a procedure to make it easier for elder tribal members to use their tribal documents to get a delayed birth certificate,” Humble said. “We crossed the finish line ... when we adopted a new Substantive Policy Statement that outlines and streamlines the process for tribal elders.”
Previously, getting a delayed birth certificate required producing four separate forms of verification that a person was born at a specific time and place. The more time that passed from the date of birth to the time a delayed birth certificate is sought, the harder it often became to produce the required documentation.
Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), and community leaders from across the state developed a new process that requires less documentation.
“Native Americans are the first Americans. They are citizens of the United States and the state of Arizona. It is their right to have access to this basic documentation needed to enjoy the rights and privileges afforded to citizens of this country,” Hale said.
Officials from the Arizona Department of Health Services have been working with Hale and other legislators, Indian Nation representatives, and county officials, including Coconino County Supervisor Lena Fowler (District 5) to develop the streamlined process for Indian Nation citizens to use in obtaining a delayed birth certificate.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Fowler said. “I’m glad it’s finally here. This will help lots of people.”
Hale added that because this solution is temporary, he plans to work with other legislators to introduce a bill that will solve the problem permanently.
“This new policy is an indication of the progress we’ve made, but it is only temporary,” Hale said. “The solution will require legislative action and I am happy to work with my colleagues at the Capitol to ensure that there is a lasting solution.”
Information on the new policy can be found here,