Birthright Citizenship For Children of Diplomats?

… hotly debated in the context of children born to illegal immigrants. While it appears unlikely that the intent of those who authored the 14th Amendment was to ensure automatic citizenship for children born to illegal and temporary immigrants, some argue that the amendment protects such grants of citizenship.

Amid this debate, however, there is one area of solid agreement among advocates on all sides: at the very least, children born here to foreign diplomats are not “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States and are therefore not to be granted U.S. citizenship. But even that low standard is not being met according to a new Center for Immigration Studies report.

A lack of direction from Congress has resulted in children born to foreign diplomats on U.S. soil receiving U.S. birth certificates and Social Security numbers (SSNs) – effectively becoming U.S. citizens – despite the limiting language within the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment.

The report is at www.cis.org/birthright-citizenship-diplomats. Among the findings:

Despite Congress’s clear intent, the current application of the Citizenship Clause is so lax that the United States has a de facto universal birthright citizenship policy that denies U.S. citizenship by birth to no one.

There is no federal requirement that hospitals ask new parents if they are foreign diplomatic staff. The same birth certificates are issued to all newborns.

The State Department is currently rewriting guidelines on birthright citizenship, signaling a possibly significant departure from current 14th Amendment jurisprudence. The agency claims that children born to foreign diplomats are “entitled to birth certificates.”

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes that children of foreign diplomats are not eligible to receive SSNs, but there is no mechanism to prevent such issuance.

Children of diplomats who receive U.S. birth certificates and SSNs have greater rights and protections than the average U.S. citizen because they can enjoy all of the benefits of U.S. citizenship but also can invoke diplomatic immunity if they break a law. A lack of direction from Congress has created what one might consider a “super citizen” who is above the law.

In order to end the practice of granting automatic U.S. citizenship to children of foreign diplomats, Congress could author regulations requiring declaration of parental diplomatic status on birth certificate request forms. As an alternative, Congress could require parents to have SSNs before a U.S. birth certificate or SSN is issued to a newborn. While this latter proposal might create better results and be more easily administered, it would have the effect of ending automatic birthright citizenship not just for children of diplomats, but also for children of illegal aliens and temporary aliens – an outcome that is more aligned with the intended scope of the 14th Amendment than the outcome created by current practices.

[FYI — Mark Krikorian] ~ Contact: Jon Feere, (202) 466-8185, jdf@cis.org

The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent research institute that examines the impact of immigration on the United States.

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