Latin Americans whose parents, for various reasons, did not register their births are emigrating to - and living in - the United States in a "double undocumented" state, according to the Mexico-based BE Foundation.
"In the United States, there is a large number of immigrants who live in a situation of double invisibility, double lack of documentation, because they don't have a birth certificate in their country of origin," foundation president Karen Mercado told Efe.
"And since they cannot prove where they were born they can't access the services their country's consulate provides, like obtaining a consular identification card with which they can open a bank account or acquire a passport from their country," she said.
The foundation was founded in 2007 at the U.N. Universidad para la Paz in Costa Rica and since then it has operated out of an office in Mexico City.
Recently, it also opened an office in Denver.
"One of the problems of double invisibility in the United States is that these people are completely vulnerable to any type of exploitation or abuse of their human rights because they don't exist," Mercado said.
"If there is immigration reform in the United States, the double undocumented people will simply remain outside it because there's no way to prove who they are and their nationality," she said.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, each year there are more than 11 million births and among children under 5 one in every six does not have a birth certificate.
"In Mexico, we have more than 112 million people and according to the National Population Council there are more than 10 million Mexicans who don't have a birth certification," Mercado noted.
"There are people who simply don't know they have to register their children. Others stay away from going to the civil registry office and when the children grow older the registry collects a fine of $60 for ... registering, which for a peasant family with several children is money they don't have," she emphasized.
In California, this week officials from the civil registration services of the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, along with representatives of the United Farm Workers, are helping get a copy of their birth certificates for people who did register.
"The surprise for us is that on Monday we were in Fresno and 200 people arrived to go through the procedure, and 60 had never registered, but we're going to help them ... to get registered for the first time," Oaxaca official Rufino Dominguez told Efe.
The UFW's Efren Barajas emphasized that "among farm workers in the United States it's common to know of people who don't have a birth certificate. Yesterday, I was in the city of Greenfield and of the 400 people who came to get the document, about 100 were not registered by their parents at birth."
"In chatting with them, there's a document that all of them have and it's the Catholic baptism certificate, and so with that document plus two witnesses ... (they can) sign up in the civil registry," he said.