In a major move celebrated by LBGTQ activists and families, the State Department has reversed the requirement that a child born outside of the US must have direct biological ties to at least one parent to be an American citizen.
Over the course of the Trump Administration, the government tried unsuccessfully to deny American citizenship to two sets of children under the previous guidelines. According to NPR, the updated application of the Immigraiton and Nationality Act intends to take into account the realities of the modern family.
Why was this an issue?
The old standard for determining whether or not a child is an American citizen, if the child was not born on US soil, relied on whether or not that child was of direct biological issue of at least one parent. Given that same-sex marriages are now legal in the US and many couples seek children by means of in-vitro fertilization and surrogacy, this produced a lot of legal friction.
What cases did the Trump Administration challenge in court?
In a 2020 ruling, a judge stated that the State Department must recognize the Canadian-born daughter of a same-sex couple. The US government did not grant the child US citizenship upon birth, even though the child is the legal daughter of two US-born parents.
The second case also pertained to Canadian-born children: twins, also born to same- sex parents. Since one of the twins had a genetic link to a US-citizen father, the US government granted that child US citizenship. The other twin held genetic ties to his Israeli-born father, and thus the government had denied him citizenship. Under the new interpretation of the law, these matters are no longer an issue.