19th District Legislators Encourage Gov. Christie to Account for Impending Invalidation of Puerto Rican Birth Certificates

Legislators Call on Governor to Incorporate Action by Puerto Rican Government into NJ Government & Business Identification Requirements

(19th District) — Senator Joseph F. Vitale and Assemblymen John S. Wisniewski and Craig J. Coughlin (all D-Middlesex) sent a letter Tuesday to Gov. Chris Christie asking him to help inform the public and prepare New Jersey departments and agencies in advance of the government of Puerto Rico invalidating all birth certificates issued prior to July 1, 2010.

“The actions taken by the government of Puerto Rico to halt identity theft and protect the identities of their citizens and Puerto Rican-born U.S. citizens are admirable,” said Vitale. “Now, it is our job to work with the administration and help create a smooth transition for those New Jersey residents affected by the pending document switch.”

In an effort to prevent Puerto Rico-issued birth certificates from being used to commit identity theft and illegally obtain U.S. passports and Social Security benefits, the government of Puerto Rico — in conjunction with the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security — recently enacted legislation creating new birth certificates that incorporate forgery prevention technology. As part of this new law, all birth certificates issued prior to July 1, 2010 will be invalidated on that date.

“While this change will likely affect thousands of residents across the 19th District, there is no need to panic or worry,” said Wisniewski. “We successfully initiated a document cancelation and replacement just last year for compromised Hudson County birth certificates. This will likely be more of the same, albeit on a larger scale.”

In their letter, the legislators asked the governor to enact informational and precautionary measures similar to those put into place in 2008 prior to the state invalidating birth certificates issued by Hudson County prior to 1965.

“While everyone born in Puerto Rico will eventually need to apply for a new birth certificate, it’s important not to panic and flood the Puerto Rican government with requests on July 1,” said Coughlin. “If you need one, apply on July 1. Otherwise, wait a few months, if you can. It will make the whole process smoother and less problematic for everyone involved.”

Affected Puerto Rican-born U.S. citizens who require a certified copy of their birth certificate in order to conduct business, apply for passports or for other official purposes are encouraged to contact the Office of Vital Statistics in Puerto Rico at www.salud.gov.pr or 787-767-9120 after July 1. Additional information also is available at www.prfaa.com/birthcertificates.

A copy of the letter is available here.

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