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Birthright Citizenship

“Birthright citizenship”, in simple terms means persons born on American soil may claim American citizenship. It is estimated that nearly 200,000 children are born in the US annually to foreign women admitted as visitors (tourists, students, guest workers) and other non-immigrant categories.

There are common cases where pregnant women cross the border illegally with the sole intention of bearing their children in the US to get the gift of citizenship for the child. This would set a legal foothold for the parents and siblings as well when the child is old enough to file a petition on their behalf for permanent resident status. Apart from this, if the child marries a foreign national, then he/she can petition for the spouse regardless of age. After he/she gets permanent resident status, that spouse can petition for her/his immediate relatives.

Illegals giving birth to children in the US is a common occurrence and is not something new. According to the Center for Immigration Studies in August 2010, between 300,000 to 400,000 such children are born every year to illegals. There is a deep frustration through the entire illegal immigration related enactment. However, lawmakers in five states have said they have introduced methods in their legislatures that would narrowly define citizenship. By doing so, they are looking to get the issue into the judiciary and get it reviewed by the Supreme Court.

Much of the current and past controversy about birthright citizenship circles around illegals giving birth to children in US with the intent to impart citizenship. Another point is why a child born to two non-immigrant parents who are in our country legally for a temporary period (who have no inherent allegiance or substantial ties to this country) should receive US citizenship.

There is no system in place to track births of children born to undocumented or even non-immigrant parents in the US. One can come up with a rough estimate when it comes to non-immigrants using available numbers. Per the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) in 2009, the last full year there were 163 million admissions of non-immigrant aliens into the US. Per OIS reports the 2008 non-immigrant admissions figure is even higher.

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