Texas denying birth certificates to children of undocumented immigrants.
July 16, 2015 2:27 PM   Subscribe

A recent civil rights lawsuit alleges that undocumented parents are being denied birth certificates for their children born in Texas, effectively denying the children the birthright citizenship enshrined in the Fourteenth Amendment and federal law. State legislators have voiced their concern.
posted by goatdog (91 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
It can be argued that the fourteenth amendment was not referring to the children of parents who snuck into the country illegally.
posted by manderin at 2:32 PM on July 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I would like to propose that, if they did what the lawsuit alleges, the proper punishment for those that violated these children's constitutional rights is to have their own citizenship revoked.
posted by mcstayinskool at 2:34 PM on July 16, 2015 [23 favorites]


"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." That's pretty clear language, and "persons" includes children, even if their parents are breaking the law.
posted by Rangi at 2:36 PM on July 16, 2015 [116 favorites]


One can argue anything. I do it all the time. But we have some solid precedent.
posted by dis_integration at 2:36 PM on July 16, 2015 [26 favorites]


It can be argued that the fourteenth amendment was not referring to the children of parents who snuck into the country illegally.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Nope, it really can't.

(And this is why I keep an electronic copy of the Constitution on my phone.)
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:36 PM on July 16, 2015 [28 favorites]


Democratic State legislators have voiced their concern. Republicans aren't represented in that article.

And you could argue a lot of things about the fourteenth amendment, because the text doesn't really get into the status of the parents.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:38 PM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


#NotAllPersons
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:38 PM on July 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


let us not ignore the irony of European settlers effectively denying natives of the American continent their right to be there

like, again, and again and again and just constantly throughout American history, really
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:38 PM on July 16, 2015 [70 favorites]


Thanks to the above for posting a much nicer reply to than the one I wanted to.
posted by tavella at 2:38 PM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Nope, it really can't.

Well, the tricky thing is that "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" clause. I think, for example, that if a French woman was on vacation in NYC and went into labor unexpectedly, that child would not be a US citizen.
posted by dis_integration at 2:38 PM on July 16, 2015


Disgusting.
posted by Atreides at 2:38 PM on July 16, 2015


You would be incorrect, dis_integration.
posted by tavella at 2:39 PM on July 16, 2015 [112 favorites]


A French woman on vacation in NYC is subject to its laws, and her child would indeed be a US citizen.
posted by Rangi at 2:40 PM on July 16, 2015 [33 favorites]


if a French woman was on vacation in NYC and went into labor unexpectedly, that child would not be a US citizen.

Talking out of my ass, at the very least I bet they would have the option.
posted by rhizome at 2:40 PM on July 16, 2015


For clarity in my answer, the Supreme Court has specifically ruled that "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" clause means that they have to obey the laws of the US. If you think a Frenchwoman in New York doesn't have to obey US laws, you would be wrong.
posted by tavella at 2:41 PM on July 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


I saw a Law & Order once that strongly suggested that French people on vacation in NYC are, indeed, subject to US jurisdiction.
posted by box at 2:42 PM on July 16, 2015 [27 favorites]


Maybe that Jade Helm invasion wasn't such a bad idea after all.
posted by gimonca at 2:43 PM on July 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


Also, let's look at the future of Texas, ethnicity-wise: the Hispanic population is large and growing, while white, non-Hispanic is currently a minority (but majority in power, though that's changing, too).

Regarding women who travel from other countries and give birth in the US (or elsewhere), there's a term for that: birth tourism, and the US isn't the only destination for such "tourism."
posted by filthy light thief at 2:44 PM on July 16, 2015


I would like to propose that, if they did what the lawsuit alleges, the proper punishment for those that violated these children's constitutional rights is to have their own citizenship revoked.

Not an option, and for good reason.
posted by jedicus at 2:53 PM on July 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


The only exception I've heard for American birth right citizenship is those children born to people with diplomatic immunity. Everyone else in the country is subject to our laws.
posted by sbutler at 2:53 PM on July 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


So it sounds like this is based on the mothers not having an approved form of photo ID? That is like a Terry Gilliam movie bizarre. From another article:
Under the state’s current policy, immigrants can use national ID cards from their home countries or some electoral ID cards to obtain a birth certificate. But many of these women fled violence in Mexico or Central America when they were minors and never got electoral IDs. As for other documentation, many are forcibly stripped of their national IDs as they make the perilous journey north.
It's super weird that there isn't some intermediate document they would issue to the baby in a case where the mother doesn't have ID. I mean, the baby was born in your hospital, that much you know, so issue a document with baby's footprints or handprints or whatever and stating time and place of birth, but not affirming the identity of the parents.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:53 PM on July 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


The "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" clause is meant to cover the children of diplomats in the US.

Not issuing birth certificates is truly worrying. It seems to be a state-sponsored form of identity abuse. And without a nationality* -- which Hannah Arendt called the "right to have rights" -- the status of these children could potentially be extremely bleak.

*Would these children have the citizenship of their parent(s)? But how could they prove as much without any ID?
posted by dhens at 2:54 PM on July 16, 2015 [13 favorites]


The 14th Amendment was put into place so there would be no argument about this. The 14th Amendment was put into place because the Dred Scott decision ruled that blacks were not citizens.
This can't be left up to the states.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 2:55 PM on July 16, 2015 [82 favorites]


It's super weird that there isn't some intermediate document they would issue to the baby in a case where the mother doesn't have ID. I mean, the baby was born in your hospital, that much you know, so issue a document with baby's footprints or handprints or whatever and stating time and place of birth, but not affirming parentage.

But the issue isn't "we can't identify the mother", but "if we acknowledge that this kid was born here in the US, jus solis kicks in". Which is why they're not issuing the certificates.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:57 PM on July 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


And "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" means they are _subject to_ (have to obey) the laws. Not, and this is crucial, that they _are_ obeying the laws. Children of people who have or are committing a crime are still citizens by birth. So the parents immigration status (which, depending on circumstance, could potentially mean they are breaking the law) does not matter -- the parents are still subject to US law, as are the children.
posted by thefoxgod at 2:58 PM on July 16, 2015 [21 favorites]


NoxAeternum, I understand the underlying motivation, but I'm asking about the face rationale they're giving.

Which doesn't seem to be "you don't have immigration documents", it seems to be "the particular Mexican ID card you do have is no longer acceptable under our rules for what forms of ID to accept". Which is a truly bizarre thing to stake somebody's birth certificate to.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:00 PM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Any pretext in a storm, LobsterMitten. And this has the charm of sounding pseudolegal.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:03 PM on July 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Anyone who thinks this is any way justifiable is a horrible person, full stop. Any government official who tries to do this should be fired and prosecuted for their criminal acts.
posted by maxwelton at 3:04 PM on July 16, 2015 [17 favorites]


The IRS is really into getting taxes from citizens who have never actually been residents, and I am sure they would be happy to accept taxes from the French woman's baby all grown up. (Who would probably also have to get a US passport ever to enter the country.)

I sort of wonder, assuming for some reason this kids never get birth certificates (which would be wrong and horrible on every level), if the IRS would or could go after them.
posted by jeather at 3:08 PM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


manderin: "It can be argued that the fourteenth amendment was not referring to the children of parents who snuck into the country illegally"

I mean, it CAN be, but it makes you a douche and it rejects like a century of jurisprudence.

It CAN be argued that the Sixteenth Amendment was enacted improperly, but look, it's been litigated, it's over, you lost. Those taxes are real and those kids are citizens.

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States ..." Which part is unclear?

dis_integration: " that child would not be a US citizen."

That child is a US citizen; right-of-soil citizenship is one way the young United States differentiated itself from European monarchies that had right-of-blood citizenship and so on. (The rest of this is a more general reply and not to you specifically ... I got kinda ranty and don't want you to think it's directed at you, dis_i.) Reverting to "you're only a citizen if your parent is a citizen" isn't just problematic because of current issues, but it undermines one of the key premises of the ideals of the United States: that any person who lives here and agrees to be governed by our laws can be part of the great American project, no matter who their parents were. You're born here, you have all the rights and privileges of everyone else born on this soil. It's a country, not a bloodline.

And it's no accident that anchor baby panic is always about Mexicans and Asians and never about, say, Swedes. It's always rooted in ethnic and racial discrimination, and the Fourteenth Amendment is explicitly about NOT denying people born in the United States a right to citizenship based on their race or ethnicity.

Urrrrgh, it makes me so angry, you are literally rejecting the American project the Founders left us to try to perfect, and you are literally siding with the Confederacy, when you're like "but only children of Americans should be Americans!" NO. THAT HAS NEVER BEEN RIGHT.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:09 PM on July 16, 2015 [151 favorites]


Yeah, I mean they're denying even valid Mexican passports on the basis that they don't have a valid visa stamp. But if _identity_ is the issue, the visa is completely orthogonal. They don't appear to be denying that the passport itself is valid, and its what establishes identity.

Its a paper-thin veneer over "we don't want to give birth certificates to children of undocument immigrants", which is not a new thing.
posted by thefoxgod at 3:09 PM on July 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's been pretty well established that the only Amendment that matters to Texan politicians is the Second, with occasional forays to the First when they get a bit too agitated regarding the Second.
posted by aramaic at 3:10 PM on July 16, 2015 [11 favorites]


So the "joke" in abortion discussions is that the modern American conservative stops caring about an individual's rights as soon as they are no longer a fetus. This would be a comical example of this if not so sad.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:11 PM on July 16, 2015 [16 favorites]


From the article:
According to the lawsuit, the women who requested birth certificates for their children in Cameron and Hidalgo counties were turned away because of insufficient proof of their identities.
Perhaps this means that the birth certificate exists, but that Texas is refusing to issue the parents a copy of the birth certificate because they don't regard the matricula consular as sufficient proof that the requester is the child's parent and therefore entitled to that document? In the same way that if any of us needed a copy of our underage child's birth certificate, and went to the appropriate office, they'd need to check our ID?

I mean, it's bullshit pretense either way, but like LobsterMitten I'm just trying to understand how Texas thinks it's doing something non-evil here. Surely it can't be failing to document the births in the first place, right? Surely that would put the child at risk of de facto statelessness, right?
posted by savetheclocktower at 3:12 PM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


And "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" means they are _subject to_ (have to obey) the laws. Not, and this is crucial, that they _are_ obeying the laws. Children of people who have or are committing a crime are still citizens by birth. So the parents immigration status (which, depending on circumstance, could potentially mean they are breaking the law) does not matter -- the parents are still subject to US law, as are the children.

The "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" clause is clearly referring to the person being born, not the parent.
posted by junco at 3:13 PM on July 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


The "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" clause is clearly referring to the person being born, not the parent.

Yes, although whether one is subject to the jurisdiction can depend on the parents. The above-cited example of a child born to a diplomat does seem to be an established exception.

In other words, if the baby can "inherit" diplomatic status at the moment of birth such as to not be a citizen, then one _could_ argue that it "inherits" illegality as well. But it would be irrelevant, since even undocumented parents are subject to the law (and diplomatic families are not).
posted by thefoxgod at 3:20 PM on July 16, 2015


(I'm radically simplifying the "diplomatic status" thing of course)
posted by thefoxgod at 3:21 PM on July 16, 2015


I'm sure all of those Red Blooded Real American Patriots who talk about the constitution all the time will strongly be in favor of these kids getting what that founding document guarantees.
posted by dr_dank at 3:21 PM on July 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


dbdis_integration: “Well, the tricky thing is that 'subject to the jurisdiction thereof' clause. I think, for example, that if a French woman was on vacation in NYC and went into labor unexpectedly, that child would not be a US citizen.”

First off, it is true that the "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" clause originally was taken to exclude any citizens of any other "allegiance." Specifically, the congressmen who helped pass the 14th Amendment were stridently clear in insisting that Native Americans were not included in the 14th Amendment, even if they were born within the geographical limits of the United States, because they had split "allegiance." Some "originalists" still use this to try to insist that it should still be so. (One wonders if they really believe any dual citizenship should be abolished across the board.)

Regardless, this hasn't been the case for a hundred and seventeen years. In US v Wong Kim Ark (1898) the Supreme Court found that the only exceptions to the 14th Amendment are children of (a) diplomats and (b) members of hostile foreign forces. Everyone else born within the United States is a US citizen. If there was any doubt about the legitimacy of this breadth of reading of the clause, the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 should have cleared that up pretty well.

So: you're actually wrong. If a French woman is on vacation in NYC and goes into labor unexpectedly, her child is born with US citizenship. The circumstances in which children oir their parents are in the US but aren't "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" are actually quite narrow and relatively rare. There might be an interesting instance for a child born to two non-citizen terrorists, but I'm guessing that's a test case we'll never see.
posted by koeselitz at 3:21 PM on July 16, 2015 [15 favorites]


The children are citizens; Texas can't make them into non-citizens by denying them their birth certificates. Failure to issue birth certificates should be an equal protection question. You can't discriminate on any basis in issuing the certificates.
posted by graymouser at 3:22 PM on July 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


It can be argued that the fourteenth amendment was not referring to the children of parents who snuck into the country illegally.

That's not what's happening here, though, so it's kind of irrelevant. The state of Texas is refusing to issue birth certificates for children whose parents don't have certain documents that people apparently didn't need to get birth certificates in similar circumstances previously.

Since Texas is saying "your request for a birth certificate is denied," the issue of citizenship is insoluble, because the parents can't demonstrate that their children were born in the US at all. What Texas is doing here seems like an attempt to deny citizenship to people who are, in fact, citizens, without running afoul of the 14th amendment whatsoever. So the argument quoted above is not only absurd and arbitrary, but a legal non-sequitur as well.
posted by clockzero at 3:22 PM on July 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Of course, my desperate theory ignores the fact that even ostensibly valid passports are insufficient, as thefoxgod points out. Jesus.

Sounds like a slam-dunk court case (though, shit, who knows these days) but it's infuriating that a government can just do this until it's ordered to stop. If the plaintiffs win, I seriously doubt they'll be getting any punitive damages, or anything else that could possibly discourage a future government from doing something this asinine.
posted by savetheclocktower at 3:22 PM on July 16, 2015


The 14th Amendment was put into place because the Dred Scott decision ruled that blacks were not citizens.

The 14th Amendment was ratified so we can find whatever we want in the penumbras.
posted by Tanizaki at 3:25 PM on July 16, 2015


Regarding women who travel from other countries and give birth in the US (or elsewhere), there's a term for that: birth tourism, and the US isn't the only destination for such "tourism."

Worth pointing out that, although this is totally a thing that happens, I've only ever seen or heard of it being practiced by rich white and Asian people, and the whole "Anchor Baby" thing really isn't. No one pays to be smuggled across the border while a few days out from her due date just to deliver in America.

This is so utterly noxious, fuck the shitstains who are doing this. These people hate the rule of law, they hate democracy, as far as I can tell they have 99.9999repeating of the rest of humanity.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 3:26 PM on July 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


The children are citizens; Texas can't make them into non-citizens by denying them their birth certificates. Failure to issue birth certificates should be an equal protection question. You can't discriminate on any basis in issuing the certificates.

This is a good point, but I think Texas will say that they know nothing and thus cannot issue the certificates: the argument would be "we don't know who this child is since we don't know who their parents are, thus we can't say if any record of birth applies to any specific child or not."
posted by clockzero at 3:32 PM on July 16, 2015


No one pays to be smuggled across the border while a few days out from her due date just to deliver in America.

Smuggled? Probably not. Middle-class Mexican mothers to be legally entering on tourist visas very close to their due date? Yes. Hell, they even advertise "Interested in giving birth in the USA?"The way I understand it the women return to Mexico after the birth with their child but the child has dual citizenship which can be advantageous for them (the child) later in life.

And Texas, just when I thought you couldn't surprise me again...you surprised me again. I, childishly it seems, thought everyone knew that if you're born in America you're an American.
posted by MikeMc at 3:36 PM on July 16, 2015


That child is a US citizen; right-of-soil citizenship is one way the young United States differentiated itself from European monarchies that had right-of-blood citizenship and so on.

The principle of jus soli was present in English common law, and it should come as no surprise that the US adopted the same principle. It is England (and the UK) which has forsaken jus soli rather than the US which has innovated it, the UK law being changed as late as 1983.

Interesting to this discussion is that the current UK law of birthright citizenship is actually consonant with the incorrect parsing of the US 14th Amendment: broadly, any child receives citizenship, regardless of parents' origin, so long as one parent is lawfully settled.
posted by Thing at 3:37 PM on July 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


I cannot imagine the frustration of giving birth to a child and then being told there was no proof I was the parent because the valid ID I have, which was accepted as valid right up until it was decided that it wasn't, didn't prove that I was who it said I was. That's serious Kafkaesque territory.
posted by billiebee at 3:39 PM on July 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


"The 14th Amendment was ratified so we can find whatever we want in the penumbras."

Unless the text of the first amendment anticipated telegraphs and specifically applied to them (it didn't), we've been relying on penumbras to understand the Constitution since it was written. The misapprehension that this means we can find "whatever we want" is foolish.
posted by traveler_ at 3:39 PM on July 16, 2015 [20 favorites]


Smuggled? Probably not. Middle-class Mexican mothers to be legally entering on tourist visas very close to their due date? Yes. Hell, they even advertise "Interested in giving birth in the USA?"The way I understand it the women return to Mexico after the birth with their child but the child has dual citizenship which can be advantageous for them (the child) later in life.

That's not an Anchor Baby, though. By definition, an Anchor Baby is one that an immigrant who is residing in the US has in order to make it harder to deport them since they're now the parent of a minor citizen, that's where the "anchor" comes from, the whole idea is that the legal weight of the baby's citizenship and rights is "weighing them down" and making them harder to pick up and throw out.

The whole concept is a gross, paranoid, racist fantasy, but at least originally it had a really specific meaning and it's more than just "birth tourism by people who aren't white".
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 3:45 PM on July 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm oddly satisfied that there's a legal disadvantage to being a pro-apartheid South African diplomat from a Lethal Weapon movie.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:46 PM on July 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


Smuggled? Probably not. Middle-class Mexican mothers to be legally entering on tourist visas very close to their due date? Yes. Hell, they even advertise "Interested in giving birth in the USA?" The way I understand it the women return to Mexico after the birth with their child but the child has dual citizenship which can be advantageous for them (the child) later in life.

Is this intended to imply that there's something unsavory about such a practice, whatever its actual prevalence is?
posted by clockzero at 3:52 PM on July 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm just trying to understand how Texas thinks it's doing something non-evil here.

I understand; I usually lean towards giving people the benefit of the doubt. But at some point, the benefits run out and all you're left with is a steaming pile of malevolence.
posted by MikeKD at 4:11 PM on July 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


posted by manderin It can be argued that the fourteenth amendment was not referring to the children of parents who snuck into the country illegally.

By your logic, it can be subsequently argued the Fourteenth Amendment does not apply to the people who wrote the Fourteenth Amendment.
posted by mattdidthat at 4:14 PM on July 16, 2015 [20 favorites]


Thing: "The principle of jus soli was present in English common law, and it should come as no surprise that the US adopted the same principle."

True. I amend to continental European monarchies.

posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:15 PM on July 16, 2015


Greg Abbott is laying the groundwork for his 2020 Presidential Campaign. I wish I was joking, but this is exactly the type of shit, defiance of the federal government and the Supreme Court, hostile and overt racism, citizenship and therefore voter suppression of Democratic populations, that is the id of the Republican party these days. Abbott will be running on this for the rest of his career.

Every single day we're worse off for having fought a war to retain the South and Texas.
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:20 PM on July 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm just trying to understand how Texas thinks it's doing something non-evil here.

I understand; I usually lean towards giving people the benefit of the doubt. But at some point, the benefits run out and all you're left with is a steaming pile of malevolence.


The Republican party, and Texas in particular, has lost the benefit of the doubt. Every action should be assumed to be malevolence until explicitly proven otherwise.
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:22 PM on July 16, 2015 [13 favorites]


very single day we're worse off for having fought a war to retain the South and Texas.

Depends on who the "we" is there. The slaves and descendants of slaves in those regions would probably disagree.
posted by thefoxgod at 4:23 PM on July 16, 2015 [21 favorites]


Is Texas refusing to release a birth certificate that still exists,
or are they refusing to even issue one.
posted by wester at 4:26 PM on July 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


> The 14th Amendment was ratified so we can find whatever we want in the penumbras.

This feels like a weird place to make a catty comment about Supreme Court jurisprudence, considering that this case concerns a straightforward interpretation of the bare text of the Fourteenth Amendment. No penumbras, emanations, or whatever Antonin Scalia sees in his nightmares.
posted by savetheclocktower at 4:33 PM on July 16, 2015 [18 favorites]


Is this intended to imply that there's something unsavory about such a practice, whatever its actual prevalence is?

It doesn't imply anything, it just states a fact: there are people who come here specifically to give birth so their child will have U.S. citizenship and there are clinics that cater to those people. As for "anchor babies" I thought I was pretty clear that birth tourists usually return home, the citizenship that comes with birth tourism may be of benefit to their children at a later date.
posted by MikeMc at 4:34 PM on July 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


I used to tell a joke: I'm proud to be an American. I nailed that landing.

Too many people say "I'm proud to be an American" as though they accomplished something. Nobody chooses where they are born.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 4:43 PM on July 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


Is Texas refusing to release a birth certificate that still exists, or are they refusing to even issue one.

From the complaint, it seems like they are not refusing to register the birth, but are refusing to issue a certified copy of the birth certificate (even an original, first issuance) absent a valid US visa. This means the children can't, in some cases, get Medicaid or enroll in school.
posted by melissasaurus at 5:02 PM on July 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is really depressing. I don't really get angry at things I cannot control. It does, I would suspect, have an impact on kids I work with. I can't really imagine being a parent or relative in this situation and powerless to the state.
posted by lownote at 5:10 PM on July 16, 2015


On the French woman who gives birth in the US thing: Her child has dual citizenship. Barring shitstain tactics like the OP which are very constitutionally illegal, both the US and France will regard the child as a citizen until he/she is an adult and then does something which invalidates one or the other citizenships, such as running for office in one of the two countries.

I have a nephew who has triple citizenship. His parents were US and Australian citizens, and he was born in Ireland. All three countries recognize him and he has three perfectly valid passports. He is currently getting a free college education in Australia, because he's a citizen there, but he could come back to the US and run for office once he graduates if he wanted to.

Of course, he's upper middle class and white, so YMMV.
posted by Bringer Tom at 5:24 PM on July 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oh, and the proper penalty for the shitstain asswipes who are doing this in Texas isn't to deny them citizenship too. It's a long jail term for malfeasance of duty and civil rights violations.
posted by Bringer Tom at 5:27 PM on July 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


And where, exactly, does Texas suggest doing with these children? It's not exactly like they can pull out the "Go back to your own country!" line on them.
posted by dances with hamsters at 5:37 PM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah the canonical example as far as I'm concerned is HRH Princess Margriet, in which Canada had to declare the maternity ward of Ottawa General Hospital (my birthplace!) as not part of Canada, because otherwise HRH would be able to claim Canadian citizenship, which was inappropriate for a member of the Royal Family.

I suppose the Texas government could try to pull that trick, it should work. But it might require some cooperation from the feds.
posted by Lemurrhea at 5:53 PM on July 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


And where, exactly, does Texas suggest doing with these children? It's not exactly like they can pull out the "Go back to your own country!" line on them.

I assume certain legislators feel like if we have to have them -- if we really, really can't throw them over the border -- then they can sit in the shadow economy and pick seasonal produce off the books at far below minimum wage and clean offices and sell street tamales. There is therefore no need for them to go school, and no benefit to giving them medical care either.

And then they'll just die or go away or shut up or even just turn invisible.

Seriously, this is what I believe a percentage of Texans and Texas legislators think.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:54 PM on July 16, 2015 [10 favorites]


Tangentially Related: A year ago, a Texas Rangers inquiry found “no evidence” of wrongdoing in the botched handling of migrant remains in Brooks County. New evidence indicates rampant violations of the law.
“They’re invisible when they’re alive, and they’re even more invisible when they’re dead.”
posted by lownote at 6:04 PM on July 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


Please do not give the Texan people in charge the idea of rushing laboring mothers onto some sort of hospital steamboat just off the coast or in international waters or something. Who am I kidding, at this point that might be next on their strategy list anyway.
posted by RolandOfEld at 6:06 PM on July 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well, the tricky thing is that "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" clause. I think, for example, that if a French woman was on vacation in NYC and went into labor unexpectedly, that child would not be a US citizen.

Very much incorrect; a similar situation happens to be the reason that Boris Johnson (mayor of London) had US citizenship (which he's recently given up, because he wants to be prime minister someday); he was born in NYC.
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 6:16 PM on July 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


The 14th Amendment was ratified so we can find whatever we want in the penumbras.

If you're gonna play the snobby dick card, you should probably pluralize it penumbrae.
posted by Xavier Xavier at 6:26 PM on July 16, 2015 [13 favorites]


As the child of an undocumented Mexican immigrant (now a naturalized citizen), FUCK YOU Texas.
posted by the lake is above, the water below at 6:41 PM on July 16, 2015 [15 favorites]


(oh yeah, born here in the US, but at the moment looking into obtaining my Mexican citizenship - you know, just in case the Crazies take over and make narco-terrorism seem a preferable alternative)
posted by the lake is above, the water below at 6:43 PM on July 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


For an interesting discussion of US immigration law history, in the context of dual citizenship, this David Martin lecture from UVa is pretty interesting.

It didn't answer my questions about the actual mechanisms of diplomatic immunity vis a vis citizenship, but has a lot of good info to add context to this discussion.

For anyone who does know (or has a better search strategy): If an American marries someone covered by diplomatic immunity, does that immunity kick in immediately? Only if they're added to the blue book? What about kids born to that union — I know that they can be covered by diplomatic immunity, but do they have to be? Is there a quasi immunity that might attach? How does the tiered system of immunity that the U.S. uses comport with citizenship?
posted by klangklangston at 7:10 PM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I live in Texas and I hate this. Like many other Texans. For the record. I wish Jade Helm was real, and Obama's shock troops would invade us and impose free healthcare, good education, birth control for all, and sane immigration policies. I'd welcome them with a goddamn ticker tape parade.
posted by emjaybee at 7:36 PM on July 16, 2015 [22 favorites]


If you're gonna play the snobby dick card, you should probably pluralize it penumbrae.

If you're going to engage in dickery of your own, you should probably take it up with Justice Douglas.

(and I don't think the nominative or vocative would apply in any event)
posted by Tanizaki at 7:42 PM on July 16, 2015


I have a friend who went to Mexico to be a birth tourist in the 1980s. Only Mexican nationals could own beach front property in Mexico. They didn't complain, and he has a proper birth certificate. That beach front property never happened.
posted by Xoc at 7:47 PM on July 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Beach front property! In Mexico! My birthright!
(Not likely to happen, tho...)
posted by the lake is above, the water below at 8:13 PM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I would like to propose that, if they did what the lawsuit alleges, the proper punishment for those that violated these children's constitutional rights is to have their own citizenship revoked.

As a naturalized citizen who went through a years-long process, I am always left speechless at the extent to which a sheer majority of Texans and Americans take their citizenship for granted. It is no small thing to be an American citizen — to have the advantages, protections and opportunities that such status affords — and yet it seems these folks are so very quick to marginalize others that it should be correct to strip some of them of such a vast and great privilege, when there are usually no other real consequences.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 11:43 PM on July 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


For anyone who does know (or has a better search strategy): If an American marries someone covered by diplomatic immunity, does that immunity kick in immediately? Only if they're added to the blue book? What about kids born to that union — I know that they can be covered by diplomatic immunity, but do they have to be? Is there a quasi immunity that might attach? How does the tiered system of immunity that the U.S. uses comport with citizenship?

I find it highly unlikely that immunity and citizenship can be "stacked" since the only recourse I know of for diplomatic immunity is expulsion from the country and refusal of re-admission which isn't a legal option against our own citizens. (Despite the desires at the heart of this topic.)
posted by dances with hamsters at 5:35 AM on July 17, 2015


As a naturalized citizen who went through a years-long process, I am always left speechless at the extent to which a sheer majority of Texans and Americans take their citizenship for granted.

As a naturalized citizen, you know more about civics than 95% of the natives. As this thread shows, even nominally nice people can have some pretty crazy ideas about how this stuff works.
posted by ryanrs at 6:05 AM on July 17, 2015 [9 favorites]


The way I understand it the women return to Mexico after the birth with their child but the child has dual citizenship which can be advantageous for them (the child) later in life.

Can these kids vote? I guess I am kind of squicked about someone voting in our elections who has never lived here more than a few days.
posted by desjardins at 8:56 AM on July 17, 2015


Can these kids vote?
Yes, in federal elections, in some cases. They are also subject to US taxes on their worldwide income.
posted by melissasaurus at 10:25 AM on July 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


Can these kids vote?

Voter registration is a state matter. I do some elections law work (but not much) and any state election code I have ever heard of requires that an elector be a resident of that state. As the linked Wikipedia articles states, in some states a citizen who has never resided in the United States can vote if a parent is eligible to vote in certain states. The citation for that statement is a dead link, so I cannot see what states those are. However, it does not seem to cover the case of a person who gives birth in the US during a temporary stay but the parent would not have established residence, either.
posted by Tanizaki at 10:29 AM on July 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


"I find it highly unlikely that immunity and citizenship can be "stacked" since the only recourse I know of for diplomatic immunity is expulsion from the country and refusal of re-admission which isn't a legal option against our own citizens. (Despite the desires at the heart of this topic.)"

As per that lecture I linked to, the general rule used to be that women who married a foreign spouse gave up citizenship. That was later overturned; then the rule was that women who marry foreign diplomats gave up citizenship. That was also overturned. Now it seems that if an American person marries a foreign diplomat, they do not lose their citizenship unless they actively renounce it. But as a family member of a foreign diplomat, they can still be covered under one of the tiers of immunity.

I'm not sure what recourses the U.S. could take against an American citizen covered under the spouse's diplomatic immunity — if they had assumed dual citizenship, as some countries allow, there could be an argument for expelling them to the other country, but since stripping citizenship is really difficult (it would take formal renouncement or overt acts in service of a foreign government, e.g. voluntary — not conscripted — military service), my hunch is that the U.S. would declare that if they returned, they would not be recognized as under the aegis of a diplomat and would forfeit the immunity, not the citizenship.

For children born of a mixed-citizenship couple, with one American, if they're born on American soil (not an embassy) that would seem to imply that they would have both jus sanguinis and jus soli claims, and likely receive dual citizenship, making expulsion unlikely but stripping of immunity still feasible. Still, I was hoping there was some law case on point with this, since immigration law is a total thicket of bizarre policies, laws and interpretations, and diplomatic law is based on international treaties, which may or may not entirely comport with American legal conceptions.
posted by klangklangston at 10:35 AM on July 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Just to note that this doesn't seem to be entirely theoretical -- googling I found an assertion that a UN diplomat from Mozambique was married to an American citizen. Still can't find an American citizen (successfully) invoking diplomatic immunity against the US.

I'm not sure what recourses the U.S. could take against an American citizen covered under the spouse's diplomatic immunity

Expel the diplomat and family and arrest the bejesus out of the spouse (or child) if he or she returns or doesn't leave with the diplomat.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:30 AM on July 17, 2015


"Just to note that this doesn't seem to be entirely theoretical -- googling I found an assertion that a UN diplomat from Mozambique was married to an American citizen. Still can't find an American citizen (successfully) invoking diplomatic immunity against the US."

Yeah, I found that too — she can't enforce U.S. civil court decisions regarding alimony.

"Expel the diplomat and family and arrest the bejesus out of the spouse (or child) if he or she returns or doesn't leave with the diplomat."

That was my hunch, especially given that the U.S. uses a tiered system for resolving cases of immunity.
posted by klangklangston at 11:48 AM on July 17, 2015


Hilaaaariously enough, because of Alecia Pennington and these other homeschooling identity abuse stories, the Texas legislature just last month passed a bill that makes it criminal for parents to not help their children obtain delayed birth certificates.
posted by yeahlikethat at 12:26 PM on July 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


yealikethat, I was unaware that even happened to anyone, much less enough that a law was necessary to prevent it. When identification abuse was mentioned upthread, I honestly didn't know what that really meant, or where it came from. This is clearly an isolation tactic used by abusers and is not hard to understand in that context, but it's troubling that the Christian homeschool culture is actively cultivating this kind of abuse against children under the guise of anti-government sentiment.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:36 PM on July 17, 2015


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