Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Trump Administration Targets US Troops in New Anti-Citizenship Rule

The Trump administration has issued new rules denying automatic citizenship to the children of U.S. servicemembers and government employees born while their parents are serving abroad. Until now, such persons were deemed to be "residing" in the U.S. and so therefore were automatically citizens at birth. Under the new rules, while the children remain entitled to citizenship, their parents will have to proactively apply on their behalf before they turn 18 -- new bureaucratic hoops that undoubtedly will cause some children to unwittingly never actually attain citizenship. The legal justification strikes me as quite thin -- under U.S. law, it already is the case that servicemembers and their spouses are legally deemed to be "residing" in the U.S. when deployed overseas, but the Trump administration says that the statute doesn't specifically say their children are so residing. I'd say that if you're born to someone deemed to be legally residing in the U.S., it'd be fair to infer to you were born residing in the U.S. as well. And until now, that was law.

There's no real point to this. It appears to be motivated by nothing more than the Trump administration's indiscriminate obsession with tightening immigration laws. Hell, here the primary victims are going to American citizen parents who are already sacrificing to represent their country. This is a gratuitous slap in the face to them. Who out there is thinking "it's just so unfair that the children of Americans serving their country abroad get citizenship automatically, just as they would if their parents were stationed stateside?" Who is the constituency that wants to target this population?

The only thing I can think of is that Stephen Miller and company are hoping that, in twenty-five years or so, they'll be able to snag a few more cases like this one: deporting people who grew up American, assumed they were American, lived as Americans, and yet will be banished from America if they at all run afoul of the criminal justice system. Most of us read that story and had our hearts wrenched. The Trump administration reads it and smells opportunity.

All of which is to say, and say again, the cruelty is the point.

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