No, America, Homeland Security Is Not Keeping Kids Of Our Troops From Becoming Citizens Despite What the Media Reported

1st Lt. Nick Anderson, a navigator in the 123rd Airlift Wing, holds his daughter, Piper Kate Anderson, during a welcome-home ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., July 4, 2018. Anderson was one of more than 60 Air Guardsmen returning from a four-month deployment to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. He last saw Piper when she was just 12 days old. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer) by National Guard, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0/Cropped

1st Lt. Nick Anderson, a navigator in the 123rd Airlift Wing, holds his daughter, Piper Kate Anderson, during a welcome-home ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., July 4, 2018. Anderson was one of more than 60 Air Guardsmen returning from a four-month deployment to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. He last saw Piper when she was just 12 days old. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer) by National Guard, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0/Cropped


Bureaucracies are strange animals. The staff and management, even communications professionals who should know better, often get so myopic and blindered and down in the weeds that they forget that they are talking to a nation that doesn’t understand the subject matter as well as they do, and, if they are talking to reporters they may be talking to people who are incapable of understanding much of anything. Toss that in with OrangeManBad and you have a perfect storm of stupidity like the one that erupted today.

It all started innocently enough.

This kind of thing happens everyday across the federal government. Policy manuals change. New regulations take effect. And the agencies just dump them out on social media. What made this one different was this:

The update also rescinds previous guidance for children of some government employees and military members stationed outside the United States.

When you have a change in citizenship regulations by the Trump administration which has made noises about attempting to end birthright citizenship, it didn’t take a genius to see what was going to happen.

Nearly immediately you had a panic created and abetted by profoundly stupid people who rushed to post garbage without bothering to consult anyone in the agency or even an immigration attorney. This was probably the worst offender–Task and Purpose usually is on anything to do with the military–it is sort of like having militant atheists write about Christianity in terms of its integrity and understanding.

Gabe Malor at HotAir, who is an actual attorney specializing in immigration law, caught what I think was a bad faith lede nearly immediately

But he couldn’t stem the tide of dumbass.

Absolutely none of what is in any of those comments is true.

What the regulation does is change procedures for children adopted by servicemembers or persons working overseas. What it does NOT do is place any extra burden on Americans citizens who happen to have a kid while living abroad. The agency responded.

Statement Regarding a Policy Update Defining “Residence” in Statutory Provisions Related to Citizenship
Today, Acting USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli issued the following statement regarding a policy update Defining “Residence” in Statutory Provisions Related to Citizenship.

“This policy update does not affect who is born a U.S. citizen, period. This only affects children who were born outside the United States and were not U.S. citizens. This does NOT impact birthright citizenship. This policy update does not deny citizenship to the children of US government employees or members of the military born abroad. This policy aligns USCIS’ process with the Department of State’s procedure, that’s it.”

And corrections started to be made.

There are two salient points here.

First, the bad faith reporting by the national media is beyond anything I’ve ever witnessed. If we take the example of Fusion Ken, NBC News has actual subject matter experts on staff who could have explained what the change meant. Delanian chose just to fire off his analysis because it fit the narrative that he has been pushing for three years. There was literally no excuse for any of the outlets who ran with this story to do so but they did, and some, like Politico, are sticking with their original story (note they stealth updated it with Cuccinelli’s statement) because it is harmful to the administration USCIS changes automatic citizenship for children of overseas service members:

While the new policy does not change eligibility for citizenship, it makes the process more cumbersome and raises that possibility that some applicants could be denied, advocates said.

“It’s creating a bureaucratic maze for people to attain citizenship,“ said Tyler Moran, director of the Immigration Hub, a pro-immigration group.

According to the memo, “children residing abroad with their U.S. citizen parents who are U.S. government employees or members of the U.S. armed forces stationed abroad are not considered to be residing in the United States for acquisition of citizenship.“

Some Democrats swiftly criticized the change, saying it would harm members of the military who Trump purports to lift up.

“This Trump Administration policy is a slap in the face to American troops and diplomats serving our country overseas,” tweeted Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.). “It’s cruel, unpatriotic and wrong.“

Again, none of this is true. The only children affected are foreign children adopted by US parents while the US parents are residing abroad for an extended time. So basically, it has no effect.

Second, Ken Cuccinelli was ill-served by his professional staff and his communications shop should be horsewhipped then summarily fired. There is no excuse for any comms shop releasing something with this potential for blowing up without a plain English explainer. The original release is nothing but gobbledygook unless you are immersed in the minutiae of immigration policy. If you are a lackwit reporter who hates Trump, all you heard was the starting buzzer to the Moron Derby. They should have known better.

But, the bottom line is that the children of at least one American parent born overseas will still be American citizens at birth, automatically. And there are no hoops for the parents to jump through today that were not there yesterday.

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