Published September 23, 2010
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico is giving islanders one more month to use their original birth certificates before they are no longer recognized, as offices struggle to handle a flood of applications for new, more secure documents.
Thursday's announcement comes a week before the birth certificates were to be voided under a new identity fraud law affecting about 5 million people — including some 1.4 million on the U.S. mainland.
Puerto Ricans commonly use their birth certificates for a variety of everyday uses such as enrolling in schools or joining churches, sports teams and other groups.
However the documents are often loosely secured and can fetch up to $6,000 on the black market, peddled to illegal immigrants who assume false identities to be able to work and get drivers' licenses in the United States.
Last December, Puerto Rican lawmakers passed a law voiding all birth certificates and requiring people to get new ones with security features.
The original deadline was Sept. 30, but Puerto Rico State Secretary Kenneth McClintock said Thursday that people can keep using their current birth certificates until Oct. 30.
Puerto Ricans in the United States complain that some government offices there have already stopped accepting their old birth certificates as proof of identity.
In the U.S. territory, meanwhile, islanders have been frustrated by long lines to apply for the new documents.
Authorities say anyone who does not have an immediate need for a new birth certificate should wait until the crush is over to apply.