What happens when you've lived in the US as long as you can remember, and then discover in your 30s that your presence isn't lawful

There are several different cases mentioned in the OP. One is thomdunn’s friend who was 35 and originally from Czechoslovakia and was asked by ICE to prove her entitlement to be in the US after Trump was elected.

Nothing is said about her immigration status - so we can assume that unlike the lady in the NYTimes article, she had appropriate paperwork. She may be a citizen, she may not.

The point is that if you are not a US citizen from birth (and increasingly even if you are) ICE can pop up out of the blue and demand you prove your entitlement to reside in the US/US citizenship. A social security card will not suffice.

The lady in the NY Times article is in a particularly bad way since her parents managed to ‘adopt’ her in about the most non-legal manner possible. As in not actually adopting her either under US law or Mexican law. Or properly registering her birth - so now she is unable to prove her entitlement to citizenship of either country.

And according to my admittedly bad maths she would have been in her early 20s when she found out about her problems so the headline of the OP is misleading in the best traditions of BB. She found out in 2012 shortly after leaving school - it’s taken until now to work through the applications, reviews, etc.

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I take your rhetorical point, but if you’re born on American soil, you are legal no matter what your parents’ immigration status is.


You’re correct, and that’s actually triggering my memory, in that I think the problem with her naturalized citizenship papers had to do with the fact that they came from a country that no longer existed. It was easily resolved, but IIRC, the issue was raised because she hadn’t done anything to actively resolve it up until that point.


Ah, that makes sense.

I mean, not logical sense per se, but a “I see how a dysfunctional and clueless government agency could screw that up” kind of sense.

What a mess. Citizenship-based taxation sucks for this reason and many more. Democrats Abroad is working to get our tax system changed to residency-based taxation, but it’s a tough job to get the attention and support of lawmakers.


I think currently I am fine. But there has long been a push by the far right to change the laws in order to revoke citizenship of those born here “illegally”. And my response to that is always, how many generations do we have to go back? If I can’t prove my great-grandparents came here legally, does that mean my grandmother and father are also illegal? It’s the sort of ridiculously flimsy premise that the far-right uses to justify their xenophobia.

P.S. technically not if I renounce my citizenship.

Things have varied over the years. 150 years ago my famiot on my father’s side became Canadian, because Canada expanded. I assume citizenship laws in tge US and Canada have gotten stricter over the years. So even a hundred years ago it didn’t take much, while more recently it’s much harder.

A few years ago some Canadians discovered they weren’t actually weren’t citizens. Some window and circumstances, they’d always thought they were. But it was rectified, they weren’t deported.

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