The children of some Americans serving overseas in the military will not be exempt from the administration's hardline immigration policies. A new United States Citizenship and Immigration Services policy unveiled Wednesday states that in some circumstances, children born to service members or federal employees serving outside the US will no longer automatically be granted US citizenship, the New York Times reports. The parents instead will have apply for citizenship for their children before they turn 18, and there is no guarantee it will be granted. The policy, which includes children born on military bases, applies to the children of non-citizens serving in the US military who were naturalized after the child's birth, the children of American citizens who have resided in the US for less than five years, and children adopted by service members overseas.
Amid confusion over how many people the rule would apply to, acting USCIS director Ken Cuccinelli accused people of "freaking out over nothing," the Hill reports. He tweeted that the policy "does NOT impact birthright citizenship" and the children of US citizens who meet residency requirements are still automatically entitled to citizenship. Immigration attorney Martin Lester, however, accuses the administration of creating a "second-class" citizenship for parents who had resided in the US for less than five years before being sent to serve their country overseas. "I don't understand how changing this policy makes America safer by telling its servicemen and women and its government employees that it’s going to make it harder for their children to be Americans," Lester, chair of the American Immigration Lawyers Association's military assistance program, tells the Washington Post. "Who possibly thought that this was a good idea?" (Read more US citizenship stories.)