Trump Admin Intent on Cruelly Tinkering With Citizenship of Children Born Abroad

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services acting director Ken Cuccinelli
Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

The Trump administration is once again attacking immigrants, this time through a policy that would affect the foreign-born children of military members and government employees.

On Wednesday, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced in a memo that it would be changing the way birthright citizenship is determined for children of service members and federal workers who are born and reside outside of the United States.

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Under the new policy, these residences outside of the U.S. will no longer be considered a part of the U.S., even though the parents of these children are working for the government. As a result, children of military members or government employees who have not spent the required period of time—usually five years—living in the U.S. and were born abroad will not automatically be considered U.S. citizens, and will need to have a parent apply for citizenship for them before they turn 18, according to the Daily Beast. Before, such children would have automatically been born U.S. citizens.

According to CNN, the policy change appears to target children of naturalized U.S. citizens who are military or government employees and happen to not have lived in the U.S. for “an extended period of time” and thereby, by USCIS’s guidelines, have not “established residence” here. A Department of Defense official told CNN that an estimated 100 people annually fit into this category.

USCIS told CNN the policy could also affect children of lawful permanent residents who were naturalized as citizens after a child’s birth.

While USCIS acting director Ken Cuccinelli insisted on Twitter on Wednesday that the new policy “does NOT impact birthright citizenship,” it does appear to impact how birthright citizenship is interpreted for and passed on from people who have not “established residence” in the U.S. From the memo:

A U.S. citizen may have automatically acquired U.S. citizenship based on birth in the United States, but never actually resided in the United States. This U.S. citizen will not have established residence in the United States, and may be unable to transmit U.S. citizenship to his or her own children.

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The new policy goes into effect on Oct. 29.

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About the author

Samantha Grasso

Splinter Staff Writer, Texan