Integrity Legal

Archive for November, 2018

3rd November 2018

In recent weeks there has been a great deal of discussion in the media regarding President Donald Trump’s statements regarding the use of executive orders to fundamentally alter the way in which citizenship is conferred to individuals born in the USA. To quote directly from a recent article in the New York Times:

President Trump said he was preparing an executive order that would nullify the long-accepted constitutional guarantee of birthright citizenship in the United States…“We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years, with all of those benefits,” Mr. Trump [said].

There are many people of various political persuasions who do not agree with the notion that Mr. Trump indeed has the legal authority to bring birthright citizenship to an end exclusively through executive order. However, there has been some debate on whether a Constitutional amendment or legislation from the United States Congress is sufficient to change the rules with respect to this issue. To quote directly from the Washington Post:

The 14th Amendment’s citizenship clause did not even address, much less resolve, the question of citizenship for the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants…Although the clause states, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside,” Congress and courts were left to work out the full meaning of the words, “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.”

In this blogger’s opinion it is also worth noting that the United States Supreme Court could also have a direct impact upon the way in which citizenship is defined in the United States through use of that branch of government’s interpretive powers to redefine the framework of citizenship conferment. However, the entire issue of citizenship in this context is of no particular concern for the reader of this blog as most readers of this blog reside in Thailand. For these individuals it is important to note that a change in the framework for conferring citizenship could have implications for children born to United States Citizen abroad.

Children born to United States Citizens in Thailand (or anywhere else outside of the United States) may be granted citizenship automatically through use of a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (or CRBA). In order to automatically confer United States citizenship to a child born abroad one of the parents of the child must be an American citizen at the time of the child’s birth and the American citizen must have spent the statutorily required amount of time physically present in the USA at the time the child was born. There are instances where an American citizen parent will be unable to confer citizenship to their child due to a failure to meet the physical presence requirement for automatic transmission. In such cases, it is possible to utilize the provisions of the Child Citizenship Act of 2001 to allow a child born abroad to become a United States citizen by operation of law.

These issues are important to keep in mind for Americans living abroad as it is this blogger’s opinion that Mr. Trump’s attempt to change birthright citizenship rules through executive order is likely to kick off litigation which will ultimately culminate in the United States Supreme Court. The framework for conferring citizenship rendered in an opinion of the Court could change not only birthright citizenship rules, but rules regarding citizenship for individuals born abroad as well.

As this situation evolves we will update this blog accordingly.

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