Nancy Pelosi calls on Trump to reverse new citizenship policy that affects children born to US troops and diplomats overseas

August 29, 2019
In The News

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services issued a change Wednesday regarding its citizenship policy for children born to some US service members and government employees, which left many confused and shocked, even after the agency issued clarification later Wednesday night. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi tweeted to President Donald Trump to reverse the policy.

"America's servicemembers & diplomats abroad are among our nation's best, yet @realDonaldTrump is launching an attack on their families, putting in doubt the citizenship of their children born overseas. This shameful policy must be reversed immediately," Pelosi tweeted Wednesday night.

While the Office of the Secretary of Defense told Insider that "the estimated impact of this particular change is small," it's as yet unclear how many US service members the new policy would impact. USCIS told reporters that the new policy tightens existing policy so parents who serve the US government abroad are able to get their children's citizenship authorization that will meet State Department rules for issuing US passports.

But other politicians piled on the outrage, as well — including some military veterans. Rep. Gil Cisneros, a Navy veteran and member of Congress from California, tweeted, "It's unconscionable for the administration to penalize our active-duty servicemembers for committing to serve overseas. Denying their children citizenship of the country they choose to serve is shameful and a discredit to their sacrifices."

Rep. Salud Carbajal, another California veteran serving in Congress and a naturalized US citizen, tweeted, "Despicable. As families across the globe make incredible sacrifices to serve our country, this undermines our recruitment and readiness.   I am a veteran and a naturalized citizen — I understand the weight of this decision. We won't let this stand."

Rep. Ted Lieu, a California congressman and Navy veteran, tweeted Wednesday, "Here is another totally stupid and ridiculous policy change by @realDonaldTrump. This change punishes US service members who deploy overseas to fight for our country. And it will make it even more difficult to recruit people to join our all volunteer military."

Rep. Barbara Lee of California tweeted, "This is a slap in the face to so many service members and diplomats serving our country abroad. This change serves absolutely no one. Trump has taken his xenophobia to new extremes. Outrageous."

Presidential candidates weighted in, too, including Joe Biden, who called the new policy "reprehensible and cruel."

Military organizations also pushed back against the new policy. Andy Blevins, executive director of the Modern Military Association of America, told The New York Times, "Military members already have enough to deal with, and the last thing that they should have to do when stationed overseas is go through hoops to ensure their children are US citizens."

Charlotte Clymer, a military veteran and communications officer at Human Rights Campaign, tweeted that she was "utterly disgusted and horrified that someone who received five draft deferments and has repeatedly insulted our military is now going after the children of service members like this."

Lory Manning, Director of Government Relations at Servicewomen's Action Network was particularly concerned that the policy would affect single parents, calling it "discrimination."

While the policy doesn't go into effect until October 29, 2019, and may not affect a large number of troops, the rollout has been criticized as chaotic and confusing, even after clarification.