Sunday, 5 September 2010

Not Everyone Born In Canadian Territory Should Be Automatically Given Canadian Citizenship.

The National Post ran an article about "anchor babies" born in the United States.

It's a worth while read because Canada has the same problem.

The 14th amendment to the U.S. constitution grants automatic citizenship to anyone born within the jurisdiction of the U.S. government. At least that is what is currently legally understood.

The 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868, states: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.”

The key word here is “jurisdiction.” Does that refer only to persons who legally immigrated and filed the proper paperwork, and to children born in the U.S.whose parents came here legally?

Canada has a similar legal framework in that anyone born in Canadian territory is automatically given Canadian citizenship. And you don't have to be on Canadian territory either since being in Canadian airspace will do just fine. This was comically demonstrated when a Ugandan women traveling from Amsterdam to Boston gave birth to a baby girl while flying over Canada.

I don't agree with the law and it should be changed. Canadian citizenship should only be given to those born to parents with status in Canada. Non-status residents; such as illegal immigrants, those on a visa, refugees with cases pending, temporary workers, etc.; should not have Canadian citizenship bestowed upon their children if they are born in Canada during their stay.

Changing the law to reflect this wouldn't put Canada out of line with the international community. In fact it would be closer to the norm.

The print edition of the National Post provided a list of countries and their citizenship rules for children born in their territories. Australia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom require some form of residency status or citizenship status of at least one or sometimes both parents in order for the child to inherit citizenship. Some countries, such as France, provide exceptions to children who would otherwise be stateless but that aside I don't see anything wrong with expecting either one or both parents to have some form of legal residency.

We have exceptions for foreign diplomats for whom Canadian citizenship laws do not apply to their Canadian born children. This Montreal Gazette article informs us:

Twenty years after Deepan Budlakoti was born at the old Grace Hospital in Ottawa, the jailed businessman is now facing deportation from Canada — his birthplace and home all his life.

The Immigration and Refugee Board has scheduled an inadmissibility hearing for later this summer, when the case against the Ottawa man will be revealed, according to a spokesman.

[...]

Though the federal government won’t publicly say why they want Budlakoti out of the country, the Citizenship Act says that if your parents are foreign diplomats or under their employ at time of birth, or without citizenship papers, you are not considered Canadian even though you were born here.

The same understanding should be broadened.

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