The Border War on Birthright Citizenship

When Texas began refusing birth certificates to the U.S-born children of undocumented immigrants, a legendary lawyer fought back.

Feature (Texas)

Eric Benson
Rolling Stone
October 29, 2015

Tags: Immigration Process

Organizations mentioned/involved: Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA)


Harbury, now 64, has made a career uncovering injustices on the ground, then speaking out about them — forcefully and persistently — until judges and lawmakers take notice.

And while it would be easy to caricature her as a boomer lefty — Noam Chomsky and Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman wrote the forwards for two of her three books — that would fail to capture her tenacity. In the 1980s, when federal judges were turning down the asylum applications of her Guatemalan clients, Harbury decided to travel to the war-torn country to document the horrors that many refugees were fleeing.

“I was way out in remote jungle areas where the cooperative villages had been burnt to the ground by the Army,” she says. “I’d just send everything back to my friends here who were working 24 hours a day, seven days a week on those cases.”