As part of the Trump administration’s assault on immigration, the State Department has been working to eliminate birthright citizenship, given to children of undocumented migrants who are born on US soil.

 

Opponents of the law dismiss the children as “anchor babies”, whose parents cynically contrive to ensure they are delivered in American maternity wards to win citizenship on behalf of the whole family.

 

As Scott Bixby of The Daily Beast reports, the State Department issued new rules last summer that unilaterally changes its interpretation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), a 1952 law that, along with the 14th Amendment, codifies eligibility.

“The US Department of State interprets the INA to mean that a child born abroad must be biologically related to a US citizen parent,” its website says. “Even if local law recognises a surrogacy agreement and finds that US parents are the legal parents of a child conceived and born abroad… if the child does not have a biological connection to a US citizen parent, the child will not be a US citizen at birth.”

 

What this means in practice, Bixby says, is that LGBT+ couples whose children were born overseas through gestational surrogacy and other forms of assisted reproductive technology (ART) are considered to be born “out of wedlock” and risk having their claim to birthright citizenship challenged and potentially invalidated. This could mean their being deported or even left stateless.

 

“Children born out of wedlock face higher legal and logistical hurdles to obtaining birthright citizenship,” Bixby writes. “In addition to submission of DNA tests proving genetic links to US citizen parents, their parents must be able to testify that they can support their children financially, and must prove that they have been present in the United States for at least five years prior to the child’s birth.”

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