Given US Citizenship to All Babies Born in the United States

Citizenship has a significant role in the lives of people of any given country. It provides persons with privileges and governmental support that are not available to foreigners. The benefits of being a citizen may include free medical services, the right to vote, free education, permission to buy land within a country, and the ability to work for the state’s government. Sovereign countries are allowed to set their own requirements for people aspiring to become their citizens. Any person who is willing to acquire citizenship must meet certain criteria, i.e., the amount of time spent in a country, the knowledge of history, language, and culture, investments in the local economy. However, it is impossible to evaluate the citizenship eligibility for newborn babies according to the mentioned above set of requirements. This study analyzes the procedure of giving citizenship to newborns and answers the question of whether it is reasonable to associate children who are born on US territory with American nationality.

Citizenship is typically acquired in two ways: jus soli and jus sanguinis. The majority of countries practice both methods with some notable exceptions. Jus soli makes it possible for a newborn to acquire citizenship if it is born on the state’s territory, regardless of its parent’s nationality and origins. Jus sanguinis does not consider the birth location and instead focuses on the child’s bloodline. If at least one of its parents has citizenship, the child may adopt it. However, this mode used alone raises multiple issues and may leave a newborn child with undetermined nationality. Some countries like India, which relies on it exclusively, will not grant children citizenship if their parents do not possess it. A variety of Islamic states also have unequal conditions for mothers and fathers (Jureidini, 2019). Female parents typically cannot transfer their citizenship to children, and if the male parent is unknown or does not have the state’s citizenship, the child will stay stateless.

Perhaps the main benefit of utilizing both modes simultaneously is the reduction of stateless people. When a sovereign state practices both jus soli and jus sanguinis, there is no risk of the child’s nationality being undetermined. Statelessness is an issue that causes people to struggle in the spheres of life that citizens consider a part of their daily routine. It is practically impossible for a stateless person to buy property, find employment, gain access to medical care and education. These people still have their fundamental human rights; however, the lack of citizenship makes it almost impossible for them to blend into society and live independently.

Despite numerous flaws of jus sanguinis, it is still considered the prevalent method of determining whether or not the child is eligible for citizenship. Most countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa practice jus soli with restrictions or have prohibited the mode entirely. A good example is Germany that has jus soli in a reduced form that places a lot of requirements on both the parents and their child (Kranz, 2017). At least one of the parents ought to have a residence permit for at least three years and have lived in the state for at least eight years prior to the birth of the child. However, the jus soli German citizenship is not permanent, and the child may be deprived of it if it does not meet certain requirements until the age of 23.

Currently, the United States practice both modes with great success. Even if the child of a couple, where at least one parent is American, is born abroad, it will still gain US citizenship due to jus sanguinis. However, the increased popularity of jus soli has led to a trend among pregnant women to give birth in the USA to provide their future child with citizenship (Jaramillo, Goyal, & Lung, 2019). Even though no special visa for such women exists and they typically use a standard touristic one, that particular exploit of jus soli is not prohibited, rather encouraged. While applying for legal permission to visit the US, the only requirement that distinguishes a future mother from a tourist is the ability to pay for medical services in case of birth.

From a business standpoint, this practice is beneficial since it expands the US population and will probably give the country a qualified specialist in the long-term. Families who decided to make their child American by default are typically middle- to upper-class with solid income and the ability to invest in the state’s economy (Imam & Kpodar, 2018). The child will be able to migrate to America, unlike his parents, however, since the jus sanguinis mode does not act in the opposite direction. This will inevitably make the parents invest even more in the American economy.

However, this practice has multiple drawbacks that may lead to severe consequences. Despite being an American citizen, the child will not be able to study in the country if its parents opted not to settle in the US. In that case, the newborn will spend most of its early life abroad if its family’s original state supports double-citizenship. Despite technically being American, the infant will grow up in another country, accumulating cultural norms and values that may be foreign to the US. It may not even know English by the time of its emancipation. If the said citizen decides to return to the states, it may lead to cultural conflicts and a surge of criminal/terroristic activity. It is also worth mentioning that this person may become a qualified agent working for another country due to their double-citizenship.

The above-mentioned method of citizenship acquisition is legal; however, the modern world faces an ever-growing issue of mass illegal immigration, which was caused by military conflicts and wars in the developing world states. The majority of refugees are women and children who would rather flee from war than participate in it. Most of these people have either become stateless or cannot return to their homeland safely. The percentage of pregnant female refugees is not that high; however, their children who are born in the US become American citizens according to the Nationality Law. They cannot afford medical expenses due to the loss of all physical possessions and cannot care for their child in most cases. This instance may become even worse if the original state these refugees are from does not support double-citizenship.

This particular case may lead to a number of complications, and the solutions which these instances imply are rarely considered ethical. The first issue is the lack of finances on the part of the mother. In case of a legal temporary visit to give birth to a child on the US territory, the future mother proves her ability to cover expenses. However, illegal migrants belong to neither middle nor upper classes of society; hence, they cannot invest in the US economy. Furthermore, in case the parent gets extradited, the child will be forced to remain in the US. The separation of parents and children cannot be considered ethical, and the latter will have to spend their early years at an orphanage, and there is no guarantee that the infants will get adopted.

Even if the illegal migrant family manages to receive a refugee status and stay in the country, it is likely that they will not adopt the values and social norms that are prevalent in American society. These families may project their values onto the child during its upbringing, fostering the “us versus them mentality.” A good example of that is French citizens who decided to participate in the Syrian War on the side of fundamentalist Islam organizations (Ekici, Akdoğan, & Ragab, 2016). These people were typically of middle-eastern origin; however, their parents migrated to France before their birth. Despite technically being French, they did not accept the values of the Republic and formed a diaspora of like-minded individuals. The application of jus soli mode in France is drastically reduced, which makes the occurrence of the exact same scenario even more likely in the US. There is no guarantee that people of foreign descent will not form a separate social entity and go against the community’s social norms even if they were born and raised within the country borders.

Due to the fact that most developing countries are located in Africa and the Middle East, the United States does not have to face the same challenges of illegal migration as their European Union counterpart. This partially justifies the prevalence of jus soli rule on the American land. The process of immigration is complicated due to the isolation of the continent by the oceans. However, the jus soli citizenship acquisition is a mode that is vulnerable to exploits, intentional or not; hence, it is necessary to implement restrictions and evaluate parents’ eligibility. The current nationality law has only one exception from the jus soli rule, which is the children of foreign diplomats not having the right of citizenship acquisition upon birth. It is necessary to expand the scope of exceptions and make the citizenship status acquired on birth temporary. This change will impact the decision-making of future foreign parents and ensure their commitment to the goal of becoming US citizens.

In conclusion, the acquisition of citizenship is a crucial part of every person’s life. It allows an individual to gain access to medical services, education, employment, and property. It also provides the citizen with the right to vote, be elected, and serve at governmental posts. The acquisition of citizenship upon birth is done in two ways: jus soli and jus sanguinis. The latter highlights the importance of ethnicity, while the former focuses on the place of birth. The US Nationality Law uses both modes to prevent people from being stateless. However, the jus soli rule is often exploited by individuals who want to gain US citizenship, legally or illegally. While still being American, this type of citizen may receive their upbringing in another country and accumulate social, religious, and cultural norms and values that are foreign to the US. This contradicts the essence of naturalization, which is the main aspect of citizenship. Hence, citizenship upon birth on the US territory should be revised because it is not reasonable to give citizenship to every child born in the states.


Ekici, S., Akdoğan, H., & Ragab, E. (2016). Countering terrorist recruitment in the context of armed counter-terrorism operations. Amsterdam, the Netherlands: IOS Press.

Imam, P. A., & Kpodar K. R. (2018). Does an inclusive citizenship law promote economic development? [PDF document]. Web.

Jaramillo, J., Goyal, D., & Lung, C. (2019). Birth tourism among Chinese women. The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing, 44(2), 94–99.

Jureidini, R. (2019). Migration and Islamic ethics: Issues of residence, naturalization and citizenship. Leiden, the Netherlands: Brill.

Kranz, D. (2017). Changing measures of the quantum of sufficient Germanness: Access to German citizenship of children of German/non-German parentage, and children eligible under jus soli provisions”. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 48(3), 367–379.

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DemoEssays. "Given US Citizenship to All Babies Born in the United States." February 9, 2022.