What happens to people borne stateless?

Are there any people in the US that are borne here but never received a SSN or real birth certificate. I’ve read this sort of issue was more common in the early 20th century in rural areas, but what if it still happens today?

That’s not statelessness. If you’re born in the United States, you are a US citizen, whether there is proper documentation for it or not. The issue comes up in proving it when necessary, such as if you need to apply for a passport or a job. In that case, there are established procedures for gathering evidence and witness affidavits and so on to present a reasonable case that you were in fact born here so you can get the proper documents together.

do such people even attend public school when they’re young?

There are some countries that do not confer a birth right citizenship. These people generally have problems getting jobs or services, and end up being marginalized as second class citizens at best. The best status they manage to get in their “home country” is ‘resident’.

This is something that is desired by some on the right, as well, to remove the birthright citizenship to prevent the scourge of “anchor babies”, but that would require and amendment to the constitution.

In the United States, yes. Absolutely!

Every child in the United States, regardless of citizenship, is entitled to a free public education. Some school districts are more strict than others about requiring proof of residency within the district but there are ways of providing adequate proof in the absence of traditional identity documents.

I know a guy who was born to American parents in Saudi Arabia and never lived in the USA. When he turned 18, he was unable to vote in US elections because he had no US address and have never had one. Later on, as he earned more money, he had to pay US taxes, but was still unable to vote… as he was not a resident of any state.

e.g. parent’s paycheck stubs, utility bills, mortgage docs, etc.

Also known as The Borne Identity.

Alecia Faith Pennington

More on statelessness.

There are two predominant ways of obtaining citizenship at birth: jus soli (by right of the soil) or jus sanguinis (by right of blood). Some countries recognize only one or the other. A few countries, such as the USA, recognize both to a certain extent.

In countries with *jus soli *citizenship a child born in that country obtains the citizenship of that country regardless of the citizenship of the child’s parents.

In situations of jus sanguinis citizenship a child born obtains the citizenship of that child’s parent(s) regardless of the country where the child was born.

The problem arises is a few complicated cases where a child is born in a country that does not recognize jus soli citizenship AND other factors complicate establishing parentage under the law for the purposes of a jus sanguinis claim of citizenship. A situation that has repeatedly resulted in problems is that of babies born to surrogate mothers in India.

Commercial surrogacy is prohibited by law in some countries. So couples wishing to employ a surrogate often go abroad to India. But India does not recognize the genetic parents as the legal parents AND India does not recognize the surrogate mother as the child’s mother due to lack of a genetic tie. These children may end up temporarily stateless, caught in a legal limbo. Rather than take steps to directly establish citizenship rules for children born of surrogacy India has chosen to ban surrogacy, thus ending the problem.

Per the European Network on Statelessness, a detailed discussion on various reasons leading to statelessness among surrogate children is available in the 2017 World Statelessness Report (HUGE pdf at link).

Wouldn’t his residence for both tax and voting purposes be his parents’ home-of-record in the United States?

Not necessarily. Elections are run by the states and they set widely varying standards for Americans abroad to register and to vote.

The Federal Voting Assistance Project has a webpage devoted to the exact question of how an American residing abroad who has never lived in the United States *might *be able to register to vote and to cast a ballot. In short, if at least one parent had last American registration to vote and/or residency in one of 36 states or the District of Columbia then such an American can register in the state of that parent’s last residence. There are a few states with slight variations on that theme. Some of these states limit such citizens to voting in federal elections only (Congress and Presidency/VP).

Unfortunately, for those whose parents last held residence in one of the other 13 states*, they cannot register to vote or cast a ballot. That does not alleviate the responsibility for such Americans to pay income tax. :eek:

*These states do not permit an American born abroad who has never lived in the United States to register to vote or cast a ballot based up last residency or voter registration of a parent or other relative being in that state: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah

UNHCR end-of-2016 statistics:

3242207 total stateless:

Africa 715,089
Americas 2,460
Asia and the Pacific 1,581,663
Europe 570,534
Middle East and North Africa 372,461

So, sure, it happens, but not by being born in the USA; note the conspicuously low figure for the Americas in general.

An interesting, and unfortunate, scenario had as an actual example a girl born in Belgium to a Canadian father (born outside Canada) and an Algerian mother. Not automatically eligible for any citizenship and therefore born stateless.

Many countries in the Americas provide jus soli citizenship which results in much lower rates of statelessness. Very few countries outside of the Americas provide jus soli citizenship.

This question has come up before. I addressed a related question a few months ago …

… and now see I’d addressed another related question two and a half years before that!

There are 1,500 or so stateless people in Japan. There are a number of children who were born to non-Japanese mothers (often Filipino) and Japanese fathers, but where the mother abandoned the child and the father (who may be married) did not come forward.

Other rare cases include an example of an Asian man who emigrated to a South American (Bolivia, IIRC) country. He renounced his original citizenship (Chinese or Taiwanese, I forget) in order to become a Bolivian citizen. While he was living in Japan, he decided he wanted to become a Chinese citizen again. The Chinese embassy told him the could process his application if he renounced his Bolivian one, which he did.

However, that information was incorrect and the government back in China determined that they could only process his application in either Bolivia or China. Unfortunately, he had no passport and was unable to either leave Japan or legally work.

Spain recognizes babies as citizens if they are the children of one citizen, wherever they are born (for international adoptions, this includes conferring citizenship when the adoption is finalized) OR if they aren’t but they’ve been born in Spain and both parents are from a country which has a treaty with Spain so both/all three countries’ citizenship will be recognized. We’re now having some situations where children are stateless (they’re still legal residents if the parents are, and able to request citizenship if and when the parents are), due to Spain not recognizing them because the parents are from a country without such a treaty and the country of origin not recognizing them due to having been born abroad :smack: There is a pretty big push to move towards wider jus soli, but it’s going to take a while. For starters: do you include everybody who is born here or not? The legal principle stemmed from the notion of respecting the laws of those countries that do not accept double citizenship, do citizens of those countries born here get included or not? Etc.

I was born in Washington DC…STATELESS!

Also, under the law, in the USA foundlings are presumed to be native citizens, unless otherwise proven. So mere unknown circumstance of birth does not render you ipso facto stateless, the presumption is that you were born somewhere in the jurisdiction and the challenge becomes figuring out where and when.

In turn, to be entitled to pass on citizenchip to his own children he’d need to physically relocate to U.S. soil “for a period of at least 5 years at some time in his or her life prior to the birth, at least 2 of which were after his or her 14th birthday” – or have the mother meet that standard.

  1. Right, it is the state (or territory or DC) that determine voter registration eligibility beyond the requirements of the Constitution and Voting Rights Act – which makes sense since in US elections you are voting for a Representative of your district, a Senator of your state, a delegate of your territory, officials of your municipality or county, and in the presidential contest every four years, for the Electors of your state. At no point do you vote directly on a “national” ballot.

So it is within the authority of the state to say that to be a registered voter in that state you should be legitimately domiciled therein. As **Iggy **points out, in some cases there will be an exception for federal offices as the expat *will *be affected by national policy, but has no reason to influence who’ll be County Sherriff or State AG.

  1. OTOH, the IRS* does* consider you a generic American Taxpayer just as long as you are a citizen with an income.

The largest group of such people in this country, at least organized group, are what you would call the Amish and it becomes an issue sometimes for kids/teens who decide to leave their community and live in the modern world. Some employers have been known to abuse/take advantage of them in the same way they do other undocumented (illegal) workers. A few may have birth certificates but I know of no ordnungs currently in the US that would allow a SSN.

Yes; at least to a certain age. Although the Amish have taken to operating their own schools and school systems much as other religions do. At one point kids were almost required to leave school in roughly the 8th grade but I am told some communities have relaxed on that.