House votes to block Trump's attack on military families living abroad


Trump's acting immigration czar, Ken Cuccinelli, has made it more difficult for children of military and other government officials serving abroad to become citizens.

The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed by a voice vote a bipartisan bill to undo the Trump administration's policy declaring that children of government and military employees living abroad would not be considered to be "residing in the United States" for purposes of acquiring American citizenship.

The rule, which would place more hurdles in front of service members seeking to have families, was slammed by veterans as "abominable and unpatriotic."

The vote was a strong repudiation of the recent rule change, pushed by Trump's acting immigration czar, Ken Cuccinelli.

Cuccinelli, acting head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, is an anti-immigrant activist and former Republican attorney general of Virginia. In August, his department announced a policy change to stop automatic citizenship for children of citizens who are serving the country abroad at the time of their births. In the past, children of U.S. citizens who were born abroad were simply considered citizens without having to go through a complicated application process and establish residency in the United States.

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, introduced H.R. 4803 — the Citizenship for Children of Military Members and Civil Servants Act — in October. His stated aim was to "fix a problem in current citizenship laws that serves as a disadvantage to certain children who are born abroad and reside with a parent serving overseas in the military or as a federal government employee."

"Under current law, such children are required to establish U.S. residency in order to obtain citizenship, which can be difficult when a parent is stationed overseas," Nadler stated.

The top Republican on the Judiciary committee, Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), signed on an as a co-sponsor.

In a joint press release, Collins stated that, "American citizens who are deployed members of our military or government officials working abroad should have confidence their children will receive U.S.citizenship."

"The [legislation] would ensure children born abroad who do not currently satisfy the residency requirements for acquiring automatic citizenship because their parents are deployed will now satisfy those requirements," he said. "Families making tremendous sacrifices to serve our country shouldn’t have to jump through additional hoops for their children to become American citizens."

The bill was co-sponsored by both House Armed Services Committee Chair Adam Smith (D-WA) and the top Republican on the committee, Mac Thornberry of Texas, as well as Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Ken Buck (R-CO), the respective chair and top Republican for the Judiciary Committee's immigration and citizenship subcommittee.

A Senate version of the bill, authored by Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and co-sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Veterans Affairs Chair Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and Jon Tester (D-MT), is awaiting action.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.