Misinformation Aimed at Military Families

Misinformation Aimed at Military Families

Misinformation Aimed at Military Families

A recently released USCIS policy update has military families up in arms. The media took the confusing policy statement, and despite clarification, continues the inflammatory spread of misinformation. 

Misinformation Warfare

The afternoon has been abuzz with the latest affront to military families. Trump is an evil bastard, who is eliminating Birthright Citizenship for children born to American citizens serving overseas in the Military. He is forcing them all to apply for citizenship via the Naturalization Process. Countless thousands of children will be denied the opportunity to become President of the United States!

Just read the headlines:

“Trump Admin Wants to Limit U.S. Citizenship for Kids Born Abroad”

~The Daily Beast

“Citizenship will no longer be automatic for children of some US military members living overseas”


Watching the Young Turks bumble and rumble over this is almost worth the misery of watching the Young Turks.

The cause of all this scatter shot? A policy manual update from the DHS Citizenship and Immigration Service. It reads as follows,

USCIS is updating the Policy Manual to better define residence and clarify the distinction between U.S. residence and physical presence. In addition, USCIS is updating its policy regarding children of U.S. government employees and U.S. armed forces members employed or stationed outside the United States to explain that they are not considered to be “residing in the United States” for purposes of acquiring citizenship under INA 320.”

This update is a bit concerning for people who live abroad on military bases. They are rightly concerned that their children will not be considered Natural Born citizens. A good part of the blame is squarely on the employees at the USCIS. They pushed out a policy that is nebulous and rife with ambiguity. Unfortunately, the media fired a bullseye with this ammunition, and the shots are traveling the globe.

Truth in Journalism?

No. It blossomed with a blog post on the site Task & Purpose, a site focused on military issues. They cited the following tweet from a SF Chronicle immigration reporter,

Task & Purpose quoted Meredith Parker, an official with USCIS, as saying,

“The policy change explains that we will not consider children who live abroad with their parents to be residing in the United States even if their parents are U.S. government employees or U.S. service members stationed outside of the United States, and as a result, these children will no longer be considered to have acquired citizenship automatically,”

This didn’t clarify anything. In fact, with the absolute inability of people to understand Civics 010, most interpreted it as  “All The Babies Will Lack Citizenship!!!”…. I have faith that you readers understand the fundamental facts that American citizens who have babies, convey their citizenship to the offspring. This huge balloon of misinformation will impact, on average, fewer than 100 people a year.


Factual Misinformation

Media is notorious for reporting from a slant. Those with a 50% accuracy and honesty rating are considered good sources. In this case, “Orange Man BAD!” is the underlying thread (#Trumphatesmilitaryfamilies is trending @ #1 on Twitter). With a little digging, the facts are very different than the slant. Who is NOT impacted by this policy alignment?

From the same SF Chronicle immigration reporter, three hours after the initial Tweet,

This reporter did the right thing and updated as more information was available. Other “trustworthy” outlets maintained their clickbait headlines well into this morning.

From the Military Times,

New immigration policy withholds automatic citizenship for some children of troops overseas, but not all

Shockingly, the hubris continues to froth today. Ultimately it’s always the “Orange Man BAD!” theory…because aligning policy between various branches can’t be reason enough to straighten out the mess.

Welcome instapundit readers!


Written by

"CC" to her friends. Recent escapee from Northern VA to the Great State of Texas. I'm a Pro-LIfe, Pro-Gun, Libertarian type... There is very little that fresh lime juice and good tequila can't fix.

  • zenman says:

    Even pjmedia fell prey to this. I expect more from them than “shoot from the hip” “shoot first, ask questions” journalism/punditry.

    • GWB says:

      He *did* say that he would wait the obligatory 24-48 hours before getting truly upset over it.
      But, yeah, it was a bit disconcerting he got his knickers in any bit of a twist.

      ( “he” = Vodkapundit )

      • Zenman says:

        His post inflamed the situation, and his one sentence disclaimer was insufficient.

        He was “truly upset” about it, but the text certainly was.

        The comment section immediately became enraged “how dare Trump. Trump is done. Blah, blah, blah.”

        I’ve followed pjmedia since it’s founding. This was no better than what the mainstream media does.

  • GWB says:

    the media spinning military families up in arms
    Mix metaphors much? Heh.

    The Young Turks are one shot short of exploding.
    Oooh, what shot can we take?! I want video of the explosion! But, wear a raincoat – there’ll be crap flying everywhere like watermelon at a Gallagher show.

    They pushed out a policy that is nebulous and rife with ambiguity.
    It was more the bad tweet they sent than the actual policy. I read it and found it no more obscure than any other gov’t policy.
    And, if the news folks had bothered to actually read it, they would have come to a different conclusion than the one they did. But TWEET! because they’re twits.

    three hours after the initial Tweet
    Hell, Vodkapundit said it was corrected (by USCIS) a half hour after the original outrage.
    But the media was halfway around the track and was not going to stop for some official’s declaration of a false start.
    (Though, he also screwed up and said it had to do with adoption in his update. *eyeroll* )

    This reporter did the right thing and updated
    The right thing would have been to investigate BEFORE you put out the original article!
    But, she did better than many, who would have simply left the lie to molder.

    Therefore, it’s a logical conclusion that a child born to non-citizens aboard a foreign US base has no claim to US citizenship.
    I think there’s actually a bit more to this. Reading the policy and the effected rule, it seems this applies to children of citizens married to non-citizens, as well. The rule is that for the automatic citizenship to take place, there has to be some residency in the US before turning 18 (when citizenship becomes a factor*). This is clarifying that spending those years on a military base is not “residency” for those purposes.

    (* I was born overseas as a military ‘brat’. Because I was actually born in that foreign country – though in a military hospital – they gave me the opportunity to declare my citizenship in that country when I turned 18. I declined as it would have meant giving up my American citizenship. [At that time, dual citizenship was not offered on the American side. I might have taken it then if it were available. I would not now do so.] And that was without either parent being a citizen of that country.)

  • If both of your parents were citizens when you were born, married to each other, and at least one did reside in the US for any period at any time before your birth, your US citizenship was automatic at birth.

    Then the other conditions for adopted, out of wedlock, one parent a foreigner, etc. seem to be all over the place…

    • GWB says:

      And I don’t think this applies to the “both parents” thing. Just to one parent or adopted.

      • Pretty much (you can interpret from the law that even with both parents citizens, there would be different paperwork in very unusual cases, where both of them lived outside the US from birth until the child was 18).

        The closest thing there is in more common life is determining what tuition rate you pay at a State university. Which gives me sympathy for the parents with children that were born overseas – all of mine were born in this State, and I’ve lived here myself for all of my life (except for three years in New Hampshire, and I never changed my residency for that time) – but there were a half-dozen bits of paperwork that we had to go through to get in-State tuition. It can only be worse at the Federal level.

  • I voted for Trump in ’16. I will vote for him next year because I would vote for Attila the Hun before anyone on the Dem slate. I am also a retired Army artillery officer and my eldest child was born in Frankfurt, W. Germany while I was stationed over there.

    With all that out of the way, this: None of you have the slightest clue what you are talking about, including the writer of this blog post.

    I downloaded and carefully read the entire USCIS policy statement – not the media’s interpretation, but the actual USCIS policy statement. In fact, the media correctly described what it said, including the specialty media that cover only military affairs. That policy statement, as it was written, absolutely and unambiguously eliminated birthright citizenship from ALL children born to military members assigned overseas, period. It made no distinction whatsoever between infants born to US-citizen parents or not. It stated clearly that citizenship would have to be applied for, not auto-granted. But, hey, let’s mock and pillory the media for reporting what the Trump administration actually said, right?

    I have pretty much zero respect for the national media. I worked with all of them in my secondary specialty of public affairs and I was even on a first-name basis with Wolf Blitzer and Katie Couric, among others. But the media did NOT screw up reporting this. They reported exactly what USCIS said in writing.

    Despite the bureaucratic butt-covering everyone is calling a “clarification,” all of which I have also read, I am entirely unassured that the policy that was in place when my son was born will still be there come Oct. 30, the first day this new policy takes effect.

    • GWB says:

      For clarification, the rule:

      applies to “children residing outside the United States who were born outside the United States to: non-U.S. citizen parents and adopted by a U.S. citizen, U.S. government employee, or U.S. service member after their birth; non-U.S. citizen parents, such as a lawful permanent resident U.S. government employee or U.S. service member who naturalized only after the child’s birth; or two U.S. citizen government employees or U.S. service member parents who do not meet the residence or physical presence requirements to transmit citizenship to their child at birth (or one non-U.S. citizen parent and one U.S. citizen parent who does not meet these requirements).”

      So, untwist your knickers, folks.

    • I had a child overseas, in Japan while my husband was active duty. I also authored the post. I assure you, I’m well informed of the process. Even have the CRB for my child, to verify it.
      They clarified the policy.

      Regardless, only congress can alter the requirements for citizenship. From the founding of the nation, birth to American parents conveys citizenship. Birth overseas doesn’t always impart dual citizenship. Or even citizenship of the host nation. My child can not be a Japanese National because neither of her parents is Japanese.
      Additionally, there is over 100 years of case law the supports the fact that OCONUS bases are not “American sovereign soil.” Therefore children born of non citizens aboard bases do not get de facto American citizenship.
      A policy doesn’t strip birthright citizenship. Unfortunately, a fact people seem to neglect whilst running around in a panic.

    • Here’s a great read if you need verification that US bases are not sovereign soil.
      Interestingly, the case involves a guy born on a base in Germany, to a US father who didn’t meet the US residency requirement, therefore he had naturalized citizenship. The case was regarding his deportation from the US based on his criminal activity.
      It parallels a lot of the discussion/fear of this drama.

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