The Trump administration set off a firestorm of fear Wednesday after it announced it was ending U.S. citizenship rights for the children of some U.S. service members and government employees serving overseas.
According to the memo from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the policy that automatically granted citizenship to all children of U.S. military and government workers abroad was coming to an end beginning Oct. 29, the Hill reports.
The USCIS later Wednesday tried to clarify what its new policy meant explaining, per the Hill:
that the new rule would only affect three categories of people: Children of non-U.S. citizens adopted by U.S. citizen government employees or service members; children of non-U.S. citizen government employees or service members who were naturalized after the child’s birth; and children of U.S. citizens who do not meet residency requirements.
But the news, coming on the heels of Donald Trump saying he was “seriously” considering ending birthright citizenship as guaranteed in the Constitution, created confusion and panic among many military families despite administration officials’ denials.
As the Military Times reports, the USCIS statement indicates:
“This policy update does not deny citizenship to the children of U.S. government employees or members of the military born abroad.”
And USCIS acting Director Ken Cuccinelli took pains to state definitively: “This does NOT impact birthright citizenship.”
However, the policy does seem to endanger the citizenship rights of foreign-born children adopted by U.S. military members, Military Times reports—and to the children of non-citizens currently serving in the United States armed forces and “stationed abroad through no fault of their own.”
“This country cannot place them in harm’s way and then punish their children and families by requiring them to undertake a years-long adjudication from an agency that is already over-tasked,” Shaun May of the Federal Practice Groups told Military Times.
Confusion and concern over the new policy sparked fear among military families. As CNN reports:
A Navy officer [...] told CNN that the guidance was injecting serious stress among military spouses. “You should go onto a spouse Facebook page and see the freak outs,” the officer told CNN.
Other military organizations called the policy insensitive at best.
“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,” Modern Military Association of America Executive Director Andy Blevins told CNN.