April 24, 2024

Surrogacy and citizenship

Can American surrogate mothers ‘sell’ citizenship to parents from foreign countries?

All three of Tony Jiang’s children were born to an American surrogate. He now runs a surrogacy agency. 

The US Department of Homeland Security may have opened the door for American surrogate mothers to ‘sell’ citizenship to parents from foreign countries.

The transmission of citizenship from mother to child was until recently restricted to genetic parents alone, under the Immigration and Nationality Act. But a new immigration policy statement broadens the definition of ‘mother’ and ‘parent’ to include gestational mothers as well. One now only need only be a surrogate mother and legal parent at the time of birth to pass on citizenship.

As bioethics commentator Wesley Smith points out, this might lead to foreign surrogacy schemes whereby American surrogate mothers ‘sell’ American citizenship to couples:

“A woman who is a U.S. citizen can be hired by a reproductive medical clinic to become pregnant overseas and to give birth in China, Saudi Arabia, or anywhere else, and then effectively hand a U.S. passport to the baby.”

The policy change is intended to redress a surrogacy law loophole that has left some children of American parents stateless in other countries at the time of birth.

But it seems the amendments could inadvertently have negative consequences as well. Smith continues: “the contracts will just provide that the waiver of parenthood occur after birth, and voila, instant citizenship. For sale. Unbelievable.”

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