One of the main concerns of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is reuniting families separated by borders. When green cards or visas become available, those who are family members or people with U.S. citizenship are considered priority candidates, and some may even have their applications expedited depending on the age of the applicant and the circumstances. That’s why USCIS heads programs such as Haitian Family Reunification Parole and deferred action for childhood arrivals. In another effort to bring families together, the agency has expanded the definition of “mother.”
On Oct. 28, USCIS announced that it issued a new policy, PA-2014-009, concerning the definition of the terms “mother” and “parent.” The policy clarifies the terms under the Immigration and Nationality Act, collaborating with the Department of State to come up with an agreeable and appropriate interpretation of these words. According to these new definitions under the INA, the terms “mother” and “parent” include any mother who:
- Gave birth to the child
- Was the legal mother of the child at the time of birth according to the regulations of the relevant jurisdiction
The role of reproductive technology
“Mother” will now include gestational maternal parents who used assisted reproductive therapy, making it easier for them to obtain U.S. citizenship to stay with the child. As such, the parent does not have to be genetically linked to the child to be considered his or her legal parent. With the increasing availability of reproductive technologies around the globe, it is becoming more common for mothers to meet this definition without actually having a genetic relationship with the child, such as of the parent became pregnant through an egg donor.
This new policy expands the definition and allows gestational mothers utilizing assisted reproductive technology to stay with their children. Under the new regulation, the parent can also take advantage of the following rights:
- To be able to petition for her child based on their familial relationship
- To have the child petitioned for by someone else according to their relationship
- To transmit American citizenship to the child if all other citizen requirements are in order and she is a resident of the U.S.
Some people are upset about this new definition, saying that it will allow fertility clinics to essentially sell U.S. citizenship to immigrants.
“[The policy will] let the surrogate birth industry sell U.S. citizenship – and access to the U.S. welfare system – to foreign parents who never even set foot in the United States,” the Daily Caller claims.
Putting aside far-fetched notions such as this, the expansion of the definitions of “parent” and “mother” is an excellent step forward for the USCIS initiative to reunify families, and children and parents around the globe will benefit greatly from the change.