the foreign Service journal
When Families Divide
The case I find myself thinking about
most was a woman who came in to the
consulate with a newborn. She had been
born and raised in San Diego, had gone
to school, to college, and had a career,
a life partner and two other children
born in California. She was visiting her
grandmother in Ensenada when she had
complications that led to an unexpected
emergency cesarean section in Mexico.
During her interview, she candidly men-
tioned that she has visited her grand-
mother every few months all her life.
With that on the table, I had no choice
but to deny her application. Had she
been married, or a man, she would have
been able to transmit citizenship, but as
an unwed mother she didn’t meet the
legal requirement. It was
as simple as that.
She was devastated
to learn that she would
not be taking her tiny
baby home to California
anytime soon. Through
tears she said, “But why?
I don’t understand. You
are breaking up my fam-
My assurances that she
could obtain citizenship
for her child via the Child
Citizenship Act offered
little consolation. It’s hard
for parents in this situa-
tion to find comfort in a
backup plan that costs farTake AFSAWith You! Change your address online, visit us at www.afsa.org/address Or Send changes to: AFSAMembership Department 2101 E Street NW Washington, DC 20037 Moving?
For unwed mothers on the border, transmitting citizenship
can be a nerve-wracking exercise to prove that they didn’t
set foot in Mexico for an entire 12-month period.