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Citizen of nowhere: Reproductive technology v. immigration law

There's a fictional work called "A Man Without a Country" that has garnered acclaim in recent years. Would you believe that there are actual people without countries, though? One 4-year-old girl provides a prime example of this; stuck between two sets of unfair immigration laws, she is a citizen of nowhere.

The girl has been caught between several conflicting immigration laws from the U.S. and India. Although her biological father is an American citizen, she is not. She is also not Indian, even though she was born in that country using in vitro fertilization. The girl is the product of the man's sperm and a donor's eggs, and she was carried by a surrogate. The girl is just one of a rising number of "stateless babies" who are born into a world with complicated reproductive technology that is not addressed by most immigration law.

The girl's 42-year-old father had been living in Texas for almost two decades until he was forced to go back to India to care for his child. The man and his ex-wife had already used a surrogate to have a child in India and bring him back to the U.S.; both parents were in the country through H-1B visas. They were able to bring that boy into the U.S. because of permanent resident rules that allow mothers to have their children in their home countries.

Several years later, though, while the surrogate was pregnant with the girl, the man's wife filed for divorce. The divorce was finalized before the girl was born. The man did not earn citizenship until months after the girl was born -- he was a permanent resident when she actually arrived. Neither the U.S. nor India will claim the child as a citizen. The girl is thus stuck in a dangerous loophole of U.S. Immigration law, unable to obtain a passport or access many other benefits. Without legal help, those who choose alternative reproduction methods abroad could find themselves in the same situation. Like many others, this girl is a child without a country.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "Stateless babies: Born into a world without citizenship" Lomi Kriel, Jun. 17, 2014

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