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Trump warns of revoking automatic citizenship law

Despite the 14th Amendment guaranteeing birthright citizenship, President Donald Trump and the Republican Party peddle fish stories to the consciously gullible

Crispin ArandaOriginally posted on October 31, 2018; updated October 31, 2018

Trump warns of revoking automatic citizenship law

Trump warns of executive order refusing birthright citizenship

One week before the November 2018 election, President Donald J. Trump served notice that he would issue an executive order revoking birthright citizenship – or acquiring U.S. citizenship by being born in the United States.

Never mind that this right is enshrined as the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Trump believes he has the power to do so.

“We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in, has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years with all of those benefits,” Trump said during an interview with Axios scheduled to air as part of a new HBO series starting this weekend. “It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”

Apparently, President Trump relishes the legal challenges that will arise from his executive order. Anyway, elections would have been over by then and – Trump hopes – that the Republican party will retain its hold in the legislative chambers.

Except that revoking birthright citsizenship by fiat is not true. Republican Trump supporters claim that the issue simply has not been challenged in court. With a conservative court in the image ofTrump, the Republicans are hoping they will prevail.

Trump’s cry of wolf about birthright citizenship is fact-free, if not a deliberate lie. The statement from Trump stems either from ignorance or contempt. More than 30 countries, including Canada and Mexico, have similar policies.

Birthright - Jus soli and jus sanguinis

Jus soli meaning "right of the soil" commonly referred to as birthright citizenship is the right of anyone born in the territory of a state to nationality or citizenship, regardless of the immigration status of the parent.

Jus sanguinis on the other hand, is citizenship at birth based upon the principle of jus sanguinis (right of blood), i.e., citizenship is inherited through parents and not by birthplace.

Almost all states in Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania grant citizenship at birth based upon the principle of jus sanguinis (right of blood), in which citizenship is inherited through parents not by birthplace, or a restricted version of jus soli in which citizenship by birthplace is automatic only for the children of certain immigrants

The list below, show countries with unrestricted jus soli birthright law. However, there had been moves to end birthright citizenship in Barbados, while Chad and Costa Rica requires certain action to retain citizenship at birth.

Brazil, Tanzania and the United States require that the foreign parents are not working for their country's government in Brazil by the time the child is born.

  1. Antigua and Barbuda
  2. Argentina
  3. Barbados
  4. Belize
  5. Bolivia
  6. Brazil
  7. Canada
  8. Chad
  9. Chile
  10.  Costa Rica
  11. Cuba
  12. Dominica
  13. Ecuador
  14. El Salvador
  15. Fiji
  16. Grenada
  17. Guatemala
  18. Guyana
  19. Honduras
  20. Jamaica
  21. Lesotho
  22. Mexico
  23. Nicaragua
  24. Pakistan
  25. Panama
  26. Paraguay
  27. Peru
  28. Saint Kitts and NevisSaint Lucia
  29. Saint Vincent and te Grenadines
  30. Tanzania
  31. Trinidad and Tobago
  32. TuvaluUnited States
  33. Uruguay
  34. Venezuela

Naturalization statistics 2010 to 2017, for selected countries











China, PR










Dominican Republic




















Interesting statistics from Mexico, traditionally, the country with the highest rate of lawful permanent residents applying for U.S. citizenship.  In the years 2005 to 2006, naturalization applicants from Mexico were well below 100,000. Then the number zoomed to 122,258, almost doubled in 2008 then tapered again the two years after going down to only 67,062 in 2010.

The perception of immigration laws becoming more restrictive and the threat of inability or lengthy delay of visa processing and waiting times is regarded as fueling the increase of naturalization applications.

At the same time, improved economic and political conditions in source countries like Mexico, Japan, South Korea and India cause the slowing or hastening of the naturalization rate for nationals of these countries residing permanently in the U.S.

Citizenship and Sponsorship

U.S. Immigration laws enable U.S. citizens to sponsor family members regardless of age and marital status.  In fact, the Immigration and Nationality Act exempts certain family members of U.S. citizens from the annual quota.

The spouse, minor child and parent of a U.S. citizen are categorized as “immediate relatives not subject to numerical limits.  On the other hand, a U.S. citizen may sponsor a son or daughter, married or not and siblings.

Legal permanent residents, on the other hand (green card holders) can only petition for their spouse and children of any age as long as they are unmarried.

Green card holders then apply for U.S. citizenship as soon as they become eligible to file a family-based petition ensure the place of their qualified family members in the visa waiting line. Trump call this legal pathway as chain migration.

Plan to reduce legal migration

President Trump and the Republican Party have initiated moves and even introduced bills in Congress that would limit legal migration and exclude parents of U.S. citizens from sponsorship.

Filipinos and nationals from other Asian countries, as well as Mexico, value family unity and respect their elders, hence sponsoring parents (who have brought them up and cared for them) is an act of duty, an obligation that is part of the Asian and Hispanic culture.

The rate of applying and obtaining U.S. citizenship from Philippine applicants for example, have been on an upward trend from 2010 to 2016 (see table, above).

However, the delay in adjudicating naturalization applications (Form N-400) seem to have slowed down the issuance of Certificates of Naturalization, the document required to apply for a U.S. passport as well as sponsor a parent.

Citizenship applications on hold

Waiting times for the U.S. citizenship application process have stretched from around six months to more than two years in some parts of the United States under the Trump administration, with more than 700,000 immigrants currently waiting for a verdict on their applications, according to a Newsweek report on October 29, 2018.

For those applying for citizenship through naturalization, waiting times have stretched to as long as 25.5 months in some parts of the U.S., data from the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency showed.

A check with the USCIS processing times webpage show the following wait times in key cities, particularly in cities and states with a significant number of immigrant population.




Waiting period in months

Agana, Guam

11 to 18.5

Dallas, Texas

17.5 to 19.5

Honolulu, Hawaii

11 to 17.5

Houston, Texas

17.5 to 20.5

Los Angeles, California

9.5 to 15

Miami, Florida

16.5 to 20.5

Minnesota, Minneapolis

15.5 to 24.5

New York, New York

11.5 to 22

Phoenix, Arizona

15 to 17

San Francisco, California

12 to 15.5

San Jose, California

8 to 14.5

Delay in processing

Applicants for U.S. citizenship must meet specific requirements, among them periods of residency (actual physical presence in the U.S.) prior to submitting the N-400 application.

The general eligibility requirements as set on the most current form are:

  1. At least 18 years of age at the time of filing (except active duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces);
  2. Permanent resident of the United States for a required period of time;
  3. Residency or domicile within the state or USCIS district where you claim residence for at least 3 months prior to filing;
  4. Demonstrated physical presence within the United States for a required period of time;
  5. Establish continuous residence for a required period of time;
  6. Must be of good moral character;
  7. Demonstrate an attachment to the principles and ideals of the U.S. Constitution;
  8.  Must have basic knowledge of U.S. history and government (also known as “civics”) as well as an ability to read, write, speak and understand basic English; and
  9. Take an Oath of Allegiance to the United States. Some applicants may be eligible for a modified oath.

Extreme vetting and additional restrictions for citizenship applicants

Oct. 10, 2018, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) related to the public charge ground of inadmissibility under INA section 212(a)(4) was published in the Federal Register for a 60-day comment period.

After reviewing and considering public comments, the rule becomes final and executory.

The proposed rule would apply not just to immigrants but also to certain nonimmigrants such those admitted on B-1/B-2 visas and would be applying for extension of stay or change of nonimmigrant status to that of a student (either vocational (M) or the most common, academic student (F-1).

A nonimmigrant would also be subject to the public charge inadmissibility, and the extension of stay of change of status could be denied.  When denied, the student or tourist visa holder could be issued a Notice to Appear as a deportable alien before an immigration judge.

There are factors considered – and weighed heavily – to determine if an alien is likely to become public charge according to the proposed rule. Among these are:

  • The alien is not a full-time student and is authorized to work, but is unable to demonstrate current employment, and has no employment history or no reasonable prospect of future employment;
  • The alien is currently receiving or is currently certified or approved to receive one or more of the designated public benefits above the threshold;
  • The alien has received one or more of the designated public benefits above the threshold within the 36 months immediately preceding the alien’s application for a visa, admission, or adjustment of status;
  • The alien has been diagnosed with a medical condition that is likely to require extensive medical treatment or institutionalization or that will interfere with the alien’s ability to provide for him- or herself, attend school, or work, and the alien is uninsured and has no prospect of obtaining private health insurance; or
  • The alien had previously been found inadmissible or deportable based on public charge.

Previous law as precursor of Public Charge Rule

In 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) included several restrictive prohibitions to immigrants after passing the 1986 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA) generally known as the general amnesty law.

PRWORA extended restricted alien eligibility for many Federal, State, and local public benefits. DHS is proposing to define “government” as any U.S. Federal, State, Territorial,

tribal, or local government entity or entities.

PRWORA broadly defined public charge as:

(A) Any grant, contract, loan, professional license, or commercial license

provided by an agency of the United States or by appropriated funds of the United States; and

(B) Any retirement, welfare, health, disability, public or assisted housing, postsecondary education, food assistance, unemployment benefit, or any other similar benefit for which payments or assistance are provided to an individual, household, or family eligibility unit by an agency of the United States or by appropriated funds of the United States.

Public benefits definition under new rule

  1. any grant, contract, loan, professional license, or commercial license provided by an agency of a State or local government or by appropriated funds of a State or local government; and
  2. any retirement, welfare, health, disability, public or assisted housing, postsecondary education, food assistance, unemployment benefit, or any other similar benefit for which payments or assistance are provided to an individual, household, or family eligibility unit by an agency of a State or local government or by appropriated funds of a State or local government.

Nonimmigrant children attending public schools

Children of nonimmigrants not entitled to free education has been excluded from the list of public benefits considered for public charge inadmissibility determination. Otherwise, attending public school for an aggregate period of not less than 12 months would be a basis for issuance of deportation order for having violated conditions of a person’s nonimmigrant status – unless the alien (in this case the parent) has reimbursed the school for the full, unsubsidized per capita cost of providing education for the attendance of his or her child.

So, while the threat to issue an executive order to deny automatic citizenship to babies born in the U.S. maybe an attempt to change the national conversation from the synagogue murders to immigration and invading hordes of illegal, criminal immigrants in caravans, revoking birthright citizenship is a red-meat issue that President Trump wants to fire up his base and – to him – prevent a Republican massacre at the November 2018 polls.

Authors & Contributors

Crispin Aranda

Crispin Aranda

Crispin R. Aranda is an established International Visa Conselor and Immigrant Advocate. He is the president of IVC and is in several migration radio programs.

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