Once a child is born in the US what procedure takes place to register that child as a US citizen?


Once a child is born in the US, what procedure takes place to register that child as a US citizen?

I look forward to your feedback.

Y’know, I, as a native-born U. S. citizen, have always kinda wondered about this too. Like, I’ve never known a time when I wasn’t a citizen.

As far as I can tell, the act of filling out my birth certificate (which certainly wasn’t done by myself) and filing that with the County Registrar seems to be the act that does it.

Compare that, however, to some child born to a rural family in a backwoods log cabin, perhaps in the early 19th century (say, for example, on Feb. 12, 1809), who never got a birth certificate filled out and file for him.

Such a person is, of course, still legally a bona fide U. S. citizen. But good luck proving that to anybody. At some point, such a kid will have to prove who he is, to get a job, to get a driver’s license, to get a social security number, to get just about anything.

If an 18-year-old kid suddenly shows up at the Department of Motor Vehicles to get a driver’s license, but without any form of documentation, good fucking luck. I don’t know how they’d deal with it.

Fifty or more years ago, it must have been much simpler. But I don’t know how it was dealt with then. I don’t remember anything at all about what I had to prove, or what documents I had to show, when I got my first driver’s license (circa 1968). In those days, you didn’t get issued a Social Security Number right at birth either, but only later on (at about age 18) when you began to actually need one.

There is no master list of all citizens. Basically, if you ever have the need to prove you are a citizen, you produce whatever documents are necessary to satisfy the entity demanding such proof. Some will demand primary documents such as your birth certificate or naturalization papers, some will accept secondary sources such as a passport or a drivers license (if the state issuing the license demands proof of citizenship).

Every state has a registry (or a number of county/local registries) of births where parents/hospitals/doctors are supposed to register the birth of a child. If someone fails to register the birth of their child, both they and their child will be in for a lifetime of hassle.

In most states, you do not have to prove you are a citizen even to vote (although it is a crime in most elections to vote if you are not a citizen). Some states have started demanding proof in order to register to vote. This has proved a great problem for a number of people who were born in rural areas before birth registry became ubiquitous or for people who were born in US territories before they became states as well as some people whose birth records may have been destroyed for whatever reason.

This also presents a problem for a lot of Hispanic-looking people. Non-Hispanics often jump to the conclusion that they must be hear illegally from Mexico or South America. Short of carrying around their birth certificates, they have a hard time proving they are legal and experience a lot of harassment.

Back in the old days, an undocumented person could have two people swear an affadavit attesting to the time and place of birth.

This is the issue of “who are you” or “prove your identity”. Since there are no master lists, and numerous reasons why someone might not be on a list (I’m thinking children from Jaycee Dugard or Amanda Berry. Nobody’s going to say that technically their children are not US citizens because the births weren’t registered.

However, what you have is a trail of evidence. Somewhere there’s a birth certificate, school records or home schooling registration, medical and dental records, etc. As an adult there’s driver’s license, wok records and tax records, residential occupancy records, voter registrations, credit cards, bank accounts, etc. there are people who know you - As the years accumulate, these bits accumulate.

It’s easy to not have one of these - an employment record, or a driver’s license. It’s an amazing feat to go 20 or 30 years and not accumulate several of these, unless you did grow up on a commune in the woods. Even the Amish would have church and school records and a community to vouch for them.

The more you’ve avoided this accumulated paper trail, the harder to prove your identity. However, the converse is true - if you try to establish a fake identity, it’s a lot harder to fake a collection of data from dozens of sources with records in different formats that go back decades. With a stupid or colluding bank employee, you might create a financial identity for yourself - but can you successfully plant a birth record, school record, or 5 years of job history?

that’s why identity theft is a useful short track - however, if you take an identity that is currently occupied, the liklihood is that having two people using the same identity for any length of time will create a number of contradictions. The IRS will eventually notice a few dozen hispanics named Hiram Berstein, 85 years old, working in 5 states with the same SS number.

The alternatives don’t work too well either. Using a dead infant as your identity was old when Fredrick Forsyth wrote Day of the Jackal in 1963. Thanks to 9/11 the government has made an effort to match death record names to prevent this trick. Killing someone is a drastic step to take simply to make a new identity; plus, finding someone who won’t be missed or make people wonder why you’ve changed - not as easy.

I got my social security number around age 11 – I needed one to open a savings account for my babysitting money.

And every paper trail is relaed to other paper trails. If you don’t have some sort of record, odds are your parents do. If you were brought into the USA as a child, odds are you were brought in using proper documentation and there’s a record. Unless somewhere in your early years, you were kidnapped or traded to locals, you are still associated with your immigrant parents and either they have your naturalization papers on record, or you are not a citizen.

If you are kidnapped, let’s say, and suddenly appear as a child during early school registration process - the school likely records your birthdate (to determine which grade you go in) or demands a birth certificate. Eithr way, you begin building a paper trail.

I assume there is some process to get a driver’s license if you don’t have a birth certificate. A lot of these require you be vouched for by reliable members of the community.

For example, Californias “Birth Date/Legal Presence” has a long list of documents - one interesting one is a court order, which I presume you go for if you have no other supporting documentation. I bet establishing who you are at that point is a matter of collecting the string of pieces in the paper trail. The less you have been noticed by the system before this, I bet the higher your attorney fees. http://www.dmv.ca.gov/dl/dl_info.htm#BDLP

Of course, once you have a california Driver’s licene, your photo and thumbprint are in the system and you probably can’t change identity very easily next time.

When the Birther movement got started, someone noticed that Hawaii changed there laws had been changed in the seventies to allow people born here to get a back dated birth certificate if they never had official gotten one when they were born…However, since Hawaii became a state in 1957, these has been a rare occurrence.

There are children born to anti-government nutters and hippies and all sorts of anti-social types in communes and backwoods communities of America all the time. I suppose if they want to join mainstream society, they could present themselves at the nearest social security office and swear up and down they’re natural-born Americans and hope for the best.

I’ve also wondered what would happen if, say, I found a newborn baby on my doorstep and decided to file for a birth certificate and claim that it was my natural-born child. I could be some crunchy granola sort who gave birth under a tree in my backyard for all the government knows.

8 USC § 1401 says:

Of course, I have no idea how you prove that a foundling is under five years or has reached 21 years. But, in any case, it would not be necessary for you to claim that the child was yours in order to establish citizenship. As long as no one else comes forward in the next 21 years to prove otherwise, the kid is a citizen. Of course, there would be other advantages to claiming the child as your own like getting them a birth certificate that will make their life easier and establishing custody of the child. I guess you don’t have to undergo a medical exam to register a birth, so as long as you didn’t raise any suspicions you might get away with it.

Well, if they found out, it would presumably be some sort of fraud. But you wouldn’t actually have to do that to make sure the kid was a natural-born American citizen:

As long as nobody finds the little tyke’s Ruritanian (or Kryptonian) birth certificate before he turns 21, he’d be a natural-born U.S. citizen.

(Kent/Wayne 2016!)

These days they get you before you leave the hospital - back in the day when we were kids your parents could refuse, but now you’re pretty much stuck. Obviously there are women having babies in compounds in the woods, though. (Home births attended by licensed midwives get the same documentation as hospital births.)

Your citizenship is self-declared. If it is challenged, you may be required to produce supporting documents in order to exercise a privilege of citizenship. Neither of my parents ever had a birth certificate, so I would never be able to prove that I was born of American citizens (in the event anchor baby laws were changed) and I could be deported.

Similarly, there isn’t even a central registry of marriage and divorce. If you apply for a marriage license, it asks if you had a previous marriage. If you say No, the marriage license is granted without further inquiry. Once you are married, there is a permanent record in that state, but not anywhere else, and no national compilation of all such marriage records. Divorces are recorded only at the court house where the divorce was granted, and in most (if not all) states, there is no central public registry of divorces.

Still can in some cases like getting a driver’s license in some states. Also I’ve seen reference to recording the birth in a family Bible as valid documentation.
The most extreme case is the Federal voting laws where you merely have to say you’re a citizen to register to vote.

flag tats are becoming the norm.

At birth? That would be useful. Born…in the USA!

In contrast to the US, other countries do have central or local registrations of citizens. Japan has family registrations, and when children are born, they are registered. Taiwan does as well, a legacy of Japanese colonial rule, and they have a national ID system as well.

For US children born overseas, they are not “registered,” but you apply for a US passport for them, which is proof of their citizenship.

Not tats, but both of my kids (born 2000 and 2004) had SS# before they left the hospital after their debuts. A helpful woman showed up in both cases with forms for me to fill out and sign. Birth Certificate and the one that got them their socials.

Easier than when I had to go get one at age 9 in Wilmette, IL. But I recall they just believed my mom.

The change came when the IRS started requiring social security numbers for dependents in order to claim exemptions.