It’s Not Always Where You Were Born That Matters.
(updated 10 January 2017)
- 0.1 I Can Hear a Few Of You Thinking Out Loud Already
- 0.2 There Are Two Main Ways To Be “Born” a Citizen
- 0.3 But The USA Is NOT “The World”.
- 0.4 So How Does the “Rest of the World” Handle Citizenship?
- 0.5 It depends On The Citizenship of One or Both Parents.
- 0.6 Just Check Out Senator Grace Poe (or for that matter, her Dad)
- 0.7 Bottom Line
- 1 Related Posts
- 2 Readers who viewed this page, also viewed:
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I’ve gotten some recent questions and comments that show me that many readers don’t really understand don’t really understand what happens at birth regarding citizenship.
I Can Hear a Few Of You Thinking Out Loud Already
“But Dave, That’s so simple. You are what you are when you’re born … everyone’s a citizen of the country they’re born in, and that’s that. Geez man, this is going to be boring.”
Boring? Well, maybe, but don’t be so sure.
There Are Two Main Ways To Be “Born” a Citizen
Majority of my readers here are Americans, so I’m going to talk like one here. This is just too easy.
If Your Were Born on US Soils, You’re an American
Well, yes (in most cases), this is true. There are some exceptions (such as children whose parents are in the USA on diplomatic passports) and a few other exceptional cases, but being “born on US soil” almost certainly results in US citizenship … no matter what country your parents hold citizenship in.
(If you want an interesting example of the exceptions to this rule, look up the birthplace of the late King of Thailand. Massachusetts?!, oh my.)
The legal reason this is so is called the principle of Jus soli (literally “of the soil). The US laws on the subject all descend from the 14th Amendment …
“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.”
But The USA Is NOT “The World”.
The US laws and rues are NOT world-wide. Not by a long shot. If you look at the map below you’ll see that the USA and Canada and most Central and South American countries hold to this legal principle, but a great many other counties do not. (Note, especially, the Philippines is one of the “Do Not” countries)..
Law Citizenship, Public Domain, https://commMany important countries, like much of Europe and Australia, for example have “modified” principles of Jus soli, but just the simple fact of being born in these other countries does not automatically make one a citizen of that country.
So How Does the “Rest of the World” Handle Citizenship?
The non-Jus soli countries follow the legal principle of Jus sanguinis (Latin: right of blood).
Jus sanguinis is a principle of nationality law by which citizenship is not determined by place of birth but by having one or both parents who are citizens of the state.
The Philippines is one important country which strictly follows the Jus sanguinis doctrine. You cannot become a citizen of the Philippines by simply being born on Philippines soil. Being born in the city f Manila doesn’t make you a Philippine citizen any more than being born in Manila, Arkansas (or any of the other 21 places named Manila in the world) would.
It depends On The Citizenship of One or Both Parents.
That’s the “blood” connection. In Jus sanguinis countries, “birthright” citizenship depends upon the citizenship of the parents.
Lest you think I am just being pedantic here, being too much of a “nit-picker”, I felt it was important to write and publish this article because I continually hear Filipino friends and others say, “I’m a Filipino, I was born here” or words to that effect.
It just isn’t always so.
Just Check Out Senator Grace Poe (or for that matter, her Dad)
Both Senator Grace Poe and her dad, a famous Filipino actor, Fernado Poe Jr. (commonly known as “FPJ”) were presidential candidates in the Philippines (Grace in 2015) and FPJ, Grace’s adoptive father in 2004.
There has never been any dispute that either father or daughter was born here in the Philippines, but both faced significant (and damaging) legal challenges regarding their “natural-born” Filipino citizenship … a strict requirement for being qualified to run for the presidency.
One of the primary issues that Poe faced during the campaign period was the disqualification case filed before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and later elevated to the Supreme Court about his citizenship.
Even though he was born in the Philippines, lawyers, including Atty. Maria C. Jeanette Tecson, who filed the disqualification case argued that Poe was not a natural-born Filipino, a requirement for a presidential candidate, because he was an illegitimate child who should have followed the citizenship of his American mother.
They argued that Poe’s father was not a Filipino either because records indicated that Poe’s father was a Spanish national.
FPJ eventually won the case mainly based on the principle that although his father was born a Spanish citizen, the father was considered to have been made a Filipino because of the one-time en masse Filipinization enacted by the Philippine Bill of 1902, which granted Philippine citizenship to all who were in the country at the time.
Even though Poe won his case and the right to run, he failed to win the election and there is no doubt the leagal wrangling over his citizenship cost him significant votes.
Grace Poe’s Challenge
Senator Grace Poe was a “foundling”, abandoned on the steps of a church in Iloilo back in 1968. I don’t believe her actual birth parents have ever been proven.
But because she could NOT prove that her birth parents were Filipinos, the courts originally held that she was NOt a “natural-born” Filipino.
Grace was adopted by FPJ and FPJ’s US citizen wife, and thus became naturalized by the adoption, but, again this did not make her a “natural-born” Filipino.
In a protracted legal battle, accompanied by lots and lots of media coverage, the Philippine Supreme Court finally rendered a final decision that Grace was, indeed and “natural-born Filipino”, but again the uncertainty, rumors, false assumptions and such surrounding the citizenship case certainly hurt her in the election, and, like her dad before her, she lost.
So now we’re up to a thousand words or so. Maybe it’s been of interest to you, or maybe you have a headache over the whole thing, but I sort of felt it was important to both my American and Filipino readers to understand some of the reasons that:
It’s Not Always Where You Were Born That Matters.