We have heard various nativist factions demanding the revocation of “birthright citizenship”.
The question occurs, how far back is it practicable to prove your lineage in the US? After all, to prove you aren’t an “anchor baby”, the class targeted by the nativists, you would need to prove your parents are not “anchor babies”, so that they had legitimate citizenship to pass on to you. How far can that chain of confirmed USian birth be extended back in time? My aunt started researching her lineage, and was largely dependent on church birth records in the 1800s, unofficial records that would probably not pass muster, just as the birth certificate I have had for myself since birth was rejected as “a souvenir from the hospital” when I tried to obtain a “real ID” driver’s license.
Found an article that pretty well lays out the timeline of official birth documentation at the Federal level. The US did not start collecting birth data until 1902. The first Federal birth certificate application form was developed in 1907. The Federal government first mandated that states collect and report birth data in 1915, but not all states were in compliance until 1933. I have certified birth certificates in hand for both parents, born in 1912 and 1920, so appears I have gone as far back as would be practicable, under a nativist Federal citizenship law, because the previous generation was born in the 1890s, prior to mandatory, official, record keeping.
You will be required to pay for a new one. That was the most irksome thing about getting a certificate for myself. If I was over 65, the certificate would have been free. But I needed it to renew my driver’s license, which expired on my birthday, when I turned 65. So, I had to pay for the certificate, a month before I turned 65, because, if I waited, I would not be able to, legally, drive to the County Clerk’s office to get the thing. A close runner up was the Secretary of State clerk rejecting the certificate I had since birth, in spite of my protesting “it was good enough for the Navy”.
The linked article has an interesting tidbit in it. People applying for work in defense plants during WWII were required to be US citizens, but having an armload of official documents identifying you was not a common thing then, and the state records keeping agencies were overwhelmed by the sudden wave of requests for birth certificates. I saw the nativist movement coming, and ordered my parent’s certificates a few years ago, so I “beat the rush”.
Steve…you aren’t paranoid, if they really are after you
Under current law, if you were born in this country, you’re a citizen. Unless you are a member of one of the classes of people that are excluded (like children of foreign diplomats who are born in this countrty) They would be citizens of their home country.
There was an interesting story in the Washington Post about a 61-yr-old Virginia doctor who was born in the US and given a US birth certificate. He found out he wasn’t a citizen this year when he tried to renew his passport. It turns out he was the child of an Iranian military officer stationed at the Iranian Embassy in Washington who had diplomatic immunity, thus he was actually an Iranian citizen here illegally. The State Dept didn’t deport him, just said he needed to apply for a green card. Of course, that could take years. So he won’t be able to travel for a while.
So far, that is the case. If the nativists really got the bit in their teeth, they would make the revocation of birthright citizenship retroactive, so you would need to get a green card as an Irish citizen, and get in line to become a naturalized US citizen.
There was a rash of cases, a few years ago, of people in Texas, with certified State of Texas birth certificates, who were required to provide additional documentation that their parents were in the US when they were born. The red flag was if they were delivered by a midwife, rather than a hospital, a common choice among the poor in that state. Apparently, INS had gotten a couple midwives to admit they had falsified birth certificates for babies not born in the US. That provided the justification to deny citizenship rights to everyone not born in a hospital. People who had been living as citizens all their life, many cases 30-40 years, including serving in the US military, were suddenly required to try and find tax records or utility bills showing their parents were living in the US at the time of their birth. I kept a form that showed the address my parents were living at when I was born, and added that to the deportation protection file, should I need to provide tax records.
Of course, a “thought leader” is advocating “casting out” virtually everyone not in his group. and a previous “thought leader” insisted he had authority to revoke anyone’s citizenship and deport them, if they attracted his attention in a bad way. So, I am not totally safe, but I’m safer than a lot of people.