From the 2020 campaign trail to the halls of Congress, Democrats condemned a State Department policy that withholds American citizenship from some children of U.S. citizens who are born abroad.
Their reactions came after a story by The Daily Beast highlighted the damage the policy has done to the families of same-sex couples.
The policy deems children born abroad via assisted reproductive technologies as having been born “out of wedlock,” even if their parents are legally married, creating legal hurdles to obtaining birthright citizenship that threaten to keep parents permanently separated from their infant children.
On Thursday evening, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) released a statement aggressively condemning the policy, which she called “unconscionable attack on American families” that “violates our Constitution.”
“Once again, the Trump Administration is demonstrating just how far they are willing to go to undermine our core values and advance their hateful agenda,” Pelosi said. “The State Department must uphold our laws, end this cruel and inhumane policy and treat every family with the dignity and respect that they deserve.”
Leading Democratic presidential candidates, too, called for the State Department to reverse the policy.
“If you are born to U.S. parents, you are entitled to U.S. citizenship, full stop,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). “This is just another example of the Trump administration’s shameful attacks on LGBTQ+ families.”
Posting on Facebook, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders called the policy “completely outrageous.”
“The Trump administration’s bigotry seems to have no limit,” Sanders said. “When we are in the White House this kind of discrimination will have no place in our government.”
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), who counts both the Kivitis and the Dvash-Bankses as constituents, tweeted that the policy is “a cruel attack on LGBTQ* families.”
Two same-sex couples are currently fighting the policy in federal court, with the State Department putting up a spirited defense of its interpretation of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, which stipulates that all children of married U.S. citizens born abroad are entitled to birthright citizenship, with no mention of a biological relationship.
In February, a federal judge ruled that Ethan Dvash-Banks, the son of one Israeli father and one American father, was entitled to the same birthright citizenship held by his twin brother Aiden, the State Department’s imposition of a biological requirement for citizenship based on a “strained interpretation” of immigration law. On Wednesday, another judge refused a motion by the State Department to dismiss a suit filed by Allison Blixt and Stefania Zaccari on behalf of their son Lucas, whose application for a U.S. passport was refused on the grounds that he was not genetically related to Allison, a U.S. citizen, despite her name on his birth certificate and her legal marriage to his birth mother.