“You can be anything you want when you grow up! You might even be the President one day!”
These are words military parents whose children are born abroad will no longer be able to say. You see, one of the requirements to run for President is to be a natural-born US citizen, and that’s a requirement military children born overseas will no longer meet.
Rather than being granted “birthright” citizenship, as every child born to US servicemen and government employees serving abroad has been granted for as long as we’ve had families doing so, they’ll now have to be naturalized after the fact. This change will make them explicitly different from being American citizens by birth.
Obviously not every military child is going to grow up and run for President, but that’s just one of many ways this one decision will be a detriment to every future child born to our brave men and women overseas.
When our members are serving abroad, they face unique challenges – interacting with different cultures, integrating their families with their small piece of America that is the base, and a multitude of other factors that aren’t part of a normal citizen’s life. These are all hurdles people expect when they volunteer to serve our nation.
What they don’t expect, however, is to have those challenges compounded by our own country’s insistence on xenophobic and otherwise cruel policies. But that’s exactly what’s happening. In addition to all the other problems being overseas presents, this reversal on birthright citizenship will force them to either go through the hassle of petitioning for naturalization of their children while overseas, or be required to get a travel visa – no small task, especially on short notice in the event an emergency arises – to bring their own biological children to their rightful homes.
The most important factor in all this, however, is who specifically this targets.
The current laws allow children born to two native US citizens (or long-established naturalized ones) birthright citizenship, regardless of their actual birthplace. In other words, this is another overt attempt to discriminate against immigrants. It places an undue burden on people who’ve pledged their loyalty to our country, and makes their lives that much harder if they want to have a family while they’re serving their new country.
This decision is blatantly anti-immigrant, by design. Any person who considers themselves a patriotic American should be appalled by such a decision. It spits in the face of all America claims to represent as a nation, and is just another way of discouraging legal immigrants from coming to our country.
The silence on this from Tennessee’s federal representatives is deafening. Even Phil Roe, the House Veterans’ Affairs chairman, has been completely mum on the subject. For all his standard crowing about all the “great things” he fights for on behalf of veterans, he seems to be prepared to let this decision go completely unchallenged. Ultimately, what matters most is not how high the country’s flag flies on the telescoping flagpole, but rather what you do for it.
This is unacceptable. Phil, on behalf of every single active duty member and veteran in Tennessee, of which I am proud to count myself as one: step up to the plate on this. You can’t pretend to care about veterans or their families ever again if you do nothing to push for a reversal on this policy. You’re an embarrassment to your seat, your post on the VA committee, and our state.
Chris Rowe is an Air Force veteran challenging congressman Phil Roe as a Democratic candidate in TN-1 in 2020. Learn more about Chris and his campaign for congress HERE.