Stateless Children Will Be Living with the Consequences of Sessions v. Morales-Santana for a Long Time
In 2019, I predicted that the US Supreme Court decision to make US immigration law gender neutral would have dire consequences for many children born to US citizens abroad. Today in Japan, my fears are becoming a reality. According to Japan Today, five children are stateless in Japan due to the five year parental residency required by US immigration law and the lack of a safeguard against statelessness. It’s not clear how many of these children were born to US citizen mothers who may have qualified under the old, gender-discriminatory law.
While it’s important for the overall Feminist Cause to eliminate gender discrimination from the law, even when it favors women, the truth is that the human rights of individual children should always come before abstract principles. The Court should never raise the risk of statelessness without mandating legal protections. In this case, the gender discrimination could have been eliminated by reducing the residency requirement to one year, or by finding that the US Constitution mandates protections for children born to US citizens who would be otherwise stateless, as required by the UN Statelessness Conventions.