Stories From
the Field.

The Torrealba Family

Four years ago, Daniel and David Torralba were left with their grandmother when their mother fled the overwhelming loneliness and poverty facing single migrant mothers. Nine-year-old Daniel has Down syndrome and requires special care. Their grandmother prepared David for school with hopes that education might break the cycle of poverty but was crushed when he was denied access to public kindergarten because he had no birth certificate.

She turned to Inalienable for help. Through weeks of detective work, we found both parents, but neither had their own birth certificates. As prospects dimmed, Inalienable took a final shot: in a coordinated effort involving Registro Civil offices in Oaxaca and Baja, we filed an Act of Inexistence—a certification that a person previously without official status is real and deserves the rights of citizenship—on David’s behalf.

Two weeks later, the petition was granted, and David enrolled in school, where he is now learning letters and numbers alongside his classmates. Still, his brother Daniel does not have a birth certificate, and until he exists in the eyes of the state, he cannot access medical care. Inalienable will not give up until he does.

Jorge Fernando Salazar

Jorge Fernando Salazar prepared his uniform and backpack for his first day of sixth grade. He was the first in his poor migrant family to learn Spanish and attend school, and he had thrived at the elementary school for indigenous children at the hilltop migrant camp where they lived. When he arrived at his new middle school, however, he was called into the office and told to go home—without a birth certificate, he was ineligible for public school.

Mrs. Salazar realized that her son’s continued education would brighten his future, but her broken Spanish and scant resources limited her attempts to obtain Jorge’s birth certificate. Inalienable staff supported her through the process of gathering documents, completing the application, and communicating with staff at the Registro Civil in San Quintin.

After several visits, Jorge walked out of the Registro Civil office with his birth certificate and attended the class the next day. Jorge is no longer one of the thousands of migrant children who face a bleak future without a birth certificate and access to education—and Inalienable is determined to brighten every one.

The De Los Santos Family

A migrant farm laborer for almost 20 years, Lemetrio De Los Santos travels up and down the length of Mexico for work. He and his family have become accustomed to navigating new social contexts, but there were some barriers they could not break: although his older children were born and registered in his native Guerrero, one-year-old Beatriz and four-year-old Martita did not have documentation.

Knowing the social disadvantages and discrimination the girls would face, the family contacted Inalienable. Initially, it looked like an easy case—until we learned that Mr. De Los Santos’ birth certificate was a forgery he had been forced to produce to get hired.

Switching tactics, Inalienable maneuvered to Beatriz’s birth certificate using her older brother’s documents to establish her identity. She can now receive medical care and will be eligible to start kindergarten when she turns five. Martita’s birth certificate is farther from reach, and she remains legally barred from the local kindergarten where she is supposed to enroll next year. Inalienable is working relentlessly to change her status and give her the legal standing to pursue education and dignity.