"I was American, and that was all I wanted to be.”
November 6, 2017 1:18 PM   Subscribe

Jesus what a horror story.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:53 PM on November 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

I was born outside the United States and was adopted when I was an infant. Fuck the xenophobic assholes who make us, naturalized citizens of the nation, feel that we are not truly at home in this country.
posted by tivalasvegas at 1:55 PM on November 6, 2017 [23 favorites]

Did anyone else note with horror the “the President is trying to make this mandatory for all employers”?
posted by corb at 2:14 PM on November 6, 2017 [15 favorites]

My parents adopted my sister from Korea when she was 4. She was super grateful that they were very very anal about getting her citizenship processed, filed, and all correct and with the correct name, which involved tons of paperwork, and some long trips to various courthouses at the time. My mother had been an immigrant from Germany, coming over with her family when she was 6, so Mom was very aware of the issues with citizenship/paperwork, etc.. (Of course then my sister's place was robbed, and she had to get her papers replaced, which was also a big pain.)

I was born outside of the U.S. (just coincidentally, also in Germany), but was automatically a U.S. citizen, being the child of two U.S. citizens. My parents filed all the paperwork to report my birth properly, of course. Periodically though I still experience hiccups with stuff when people see my non-U.S. place of birth listed. (I had to send off my old childhood passport when I went to get a Social Security number, for instance. That happened in the 1970's.) I can testify that despite being a citizen by birth I've had some unwelcoming experiences myself, even prior to Sept. 11th.

Of course, the stuff I've encountered is nothing at all compared to the woman I know who is a Muslim with a background in Iran, despite her growing up in the U.S. and being a U.S. citizen.
posted by gudrun at 2:20 PM on November 6, 2017 [5 favorites]

Having gone through the naturalization process as an adult, the way in which different countries confirm citizenship of their own and others' citizens has become a real topic of interest for me. In almost all cases, there simply isn't a single, unified citizen roll. Even in countries with a well-functioning civil registration system, like Sweden, the citizenship information therein is usually a subset of all citizens. And, in countries without, like the US, citizenship is very much implied from data found here and there and everywhere.
posted by groda at 2:39 PM on November 6, 2017

Best friend - born in Canada - with an American mom and Canadian dad - lily white as could be and in the US since he was 1 had this same thing happen to him cause his mom messed up the paperwork when they came back into the US.

When he was 18, he went to go join the Army and had to verify his citizenship and ran into a rude surprise including an immigration officer who point blankly looked at his mom next to him and said "if your son was here in this room I'd have to arrest him".. still took him like 3 years to get it all sorted and boy is he careful with those official documents.
posted by drewbage1847 at 2:46 PM on November 6, 2017 [5 favorites]

I'm so glad this worked out. While reading this essay, I was afraid that perhaps her parents hadn't filed the paperwork, thinking that because she was adopted by Americans, she was automatically made a citizen.That law, in fact, didn't change until 2000. I adopted my daughter in 1996, so she retroactively became a US citizen then, but thought I'd wait until she was older to appreciate the citizenship ceremony an obtain an essentially meaningless certificate.

Then Sept.11 happened, and the rules changed. When I went to get her an updated passport, we went through hell since no one document seemed to be good enough to prove who she was, both the girl in the adoption documents and the girl with the temporary American passport, because, you know, a three-year-old could have been a terrorist and sneaked into the country under the guise of being an adorable little girl.

It took 9 months of delays, lost paperwork on the part of the State Department, false claims that it had been mailed to s and I don't know how many offices before we finally got a document that gave her Chinese birth name and her American name and verified she was one and the same. We have a document with a large embossed stamp and a giant signature of Condoleezza Rice, and about 10 photocopies of it stored in different places.
posted by etaoin at 3:05 PM on November 6, 2017 [15 favorites]

There was a time when, technically, any dual citizenship claim could be used to question citizenship, and if you didn’t formally swear to renounce your citizenship in certain other countries (like Germany) your status could be challenged. The rules are so arbitrary and unstable, it’s completely unfair and arguably un-American (whether or not the practice in the U.S. historically, it’s un-American as an ideal) to legally bully and uproot by deportation real, living human beings with established lives in the U.S., especially when they’ve personally done nothing wrong.
posted by saulgoodman at 4:17 PM on November 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

It sometimes doesn’t go so well. There were a couple different articles in The NY Times such as this one about a Korean adoptee preparing for deportation Or this one about deported adoptees in Korea(including Adam Crapser, the subject of the first article). There are around 35,000 non-citizen adoptees in the US.
posted by rockindata at 4:30 PM on November 6, 2017 [11 favorites]

Americans have no idea how brutal the US immigration system is. I'm a golden boy (white Canadian) as far as US immigrants go and it was a lot of paperwork and office visits and money and forms for me. For most people the system is difficult at best and at worst it's basically a lock-out - it's really hard to become American in comparison to places with point-based immigration systems. I suppose it's inevitable that since the US attracts more migrants than anywhere else that the system will inevitably reject a lot of people, but still. Americans have no clue. It's hard to hell to get in legally.
posted by GuyZero at 4:42 PM on November 6, 2017 [10 favorites]

From rockindata's NYT link:

In 2000, Congress passed the Child Citizenship Act, which granted automatic citizenship to children adopted by United States citizens. But the law did not retroactively benefit adoptees who were already legal adults.

Jesus. How can the US just cut people loose like this?
posted by GuyZero at 4:44 PM on November 6, 2017 [10 favorites]

It's such a horrible situation; it makes me wonder just how many untold stories there are.
posted by mightshould at 5:09 PM on November 6, 2017

Lots. And lots. It's sort of quintessentially perfect though: adopt the cute child, deport the non-cute adult.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 5:31 PM on November 6, 2017

The British government has no specific passport renewal process, at least if you don't live in the UK. So every ten years, you get to fill in a passport application where you assert your claim to citizenship from scratch. I'm convinced that sooner or later they'll try to claim I'm not a citizen. I have a sneaking suspicion problems may arise when your British citizen parent doesn't have a passport because they're dead. (That said, I do know someone who is likely in this situation and he didn't mention a kafkaesque nightmare, so perhaps there's hope.)

There was a time when, technically, any dual citizenship claim could be used to question citizenship

The State Department did, in fact, go after people, including, IIRC, people who were dual citizens by birth, rather than people who acquired a second citizenship (which, under the policies at the time, could more clearly put your US citizenship in jeopardy).
posted by hoyland at 5:39 PM on November 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Sort of relatedly, Australia is presently in the middle of what is almost a slow-burning constitutional crisis. Our Constitution bars dual nationals from being elected to Parliament, and many MPs have just discovered/revealed that they were consequently ineligible for election. Ignorance of (e.g.) inherited dual nationality is no excuse, and since almost all Australians are descended from migrants there may be many others whose ancestors came from countries with inheritable citizenship. There are even weird cases like one MP whose Australian mother was retrospectively granted Hungarian citizenship a few years ago without any act on her own part, but whose son may therefore have lost his right to sit in Parliament. People's lives are complicated and they often don't fit within the lines made by black-letter law.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:19 PM on November 6, 2017 [6 favorites]

Previously, when I had to prove my citizenship—when I’d had to verify work eligibility or apply for my passport—I’d simply brought along physical documentation; no search of the system was necessary. If all that physical proof had been lost—in a house fire, or a flood—what evidence could I then have presented when I went to USCIS?
A friend of my father's was born in what is now Slovakia but was the Nazi controlled Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia at the time of his birth. He was born in a village that basically ceased to exist at some time in WWII. His family were refugees who emigrated when he was a child first to Britain when Slovakia was a part of the Soviet Union and eventually Canada. He had a war and peace sized book of documentation of his trail to Canadian Citizenship and basically lived in abject fear of ever losing it and therefor being unable to prove his legal existence. There was no requesting certified copies of his birth certificate or anything. The town and country where he was born didn't exist any longer (the first physically and the second legally) and in fact had gone through multiple rounds of dissolution. His parents never told him how they escaped the soviet union but it's likely they paid multiple massive bribes along the way in several spots and at least several of the steps weren't exactly kosher.
posted by Mitheral at 7:44 PM on November 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

My grandmother ran into a paperwork mixup like this when she was applying for her passport to go on her honeymoon. Her family had emigrated from New Brunswick when she was about six, but for some reason it was unclear whether she was ever naturalized along with the rest of the family. There was a lot of back-and-forth of red tape until finally Grandma basically said "fuck this" and asked if she could just be naturalized or re-naturalized just to get the job done. She was white and Canadian, so of course that was no problem.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:23 AM on November 7, 2017

Weird, at least into the 90s and early 2000s if you lived in the US with your legally resident minor children, they automatically got US citizenship when the parent did. The annoying loophole being that if said minor child turns 18 during the process, they then have to apply on their own. (That happened to my SO, whose siblings became citizens when one of their parents did. SO had to spend a few more months on it after she turned 18.

And that relatively simple process was actually a 20 year project on the part of her parents to submit paperwork, get lucky at lottery time, submit more paperwork, get the necessary visas, come here, submit more paperwork, meet residency requirements and submit more paperwork, doing everything as quickly as possible. (With the help of attorneys every step of the way, too!)

It can happen faster under a spousal or family reunification process, but even that is fraught with difficulty. I know someone who is presently living in Costa Rica waiting for her husband's entry ban to expire. An entry ban they gave him when he self deported after his initial adjustment of status was denied (he had overstayed his temporary work visa, but was otherwise not in any trouble) no less.
posted by wierdo at 11:45 AM on November 7, 2017

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