An Iranian doctor who lives in Virginia recently discovered he wasn’t a U.S. citizen, even though he was born in the US., because his father wasn’t an immigrant, legal or illegal, but a diplomat at the Iranian Embassy in Washington:
Virginia doctor, Siavash Sobhani, who was born in US loses his CITIZENSHIP after applying for new passport because his dad was Iranian diplomat and he wasn't entitled to claim it https://t.co/PvkUohuFGt pic.twitter.com/uFb7ZWr8oe— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) November 26, 2023
From the Daily Mail, November 26:
61-year-old Virginia doctor who was born in the US has been stripped of his citizenship—all because of his late father’s status as an Iranian diplomat at the time of his birth.
Siavash Sobhani became stateless when he tried to renew his passport in June this year—with officials telling him that he never should have been granted American citizenship in 1960, according to the Washington Post.
The State Department informed him that babies born in the US to parents with diplomatic immunity— which his father enjoyed as an Iranian Embassy employee at the time—shouldn’t automatically acquire citizenship. ...
’As a member of your parent’s household at the time of your birth, you also enjoyed full diplomatic immunity from the jurisdiction of the United States,’ a State Department letter to Sobhani seen by the Post read.
’As such, you were born not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Therefore, you did not acquire US citizenship at birth.’
All this happened during the reign of the late Shah of Iran, when Iran was an ally of the U.S. The 14th Amendment says:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.
There has always been a known exception for diplomats—being an Ambassador to the U.S. does not give you the right to confer citizenship on your U.S. born children, and this exception was mentioned in the debates on ratification of the 14th Amendment.
From our 2001 essay, Weigh Anchor! Enforce the Citizenship Clause:
Introducing the proposed amendment, Senator Jacob Merritt Howard of Michigan stated that he believed the Citizenship Clause was "simply declaratory of what I regard as the law of the land already, that every person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural and national law, a citizen of the United States." He went on to say specifically whom he considered that natural and national law excluded:
This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons.
The only, tenuous, way to read Senator Howard’s statement to support birthright citizenship for the children of illegal aliens or, indeed, most legally resident aliens is to assume that the only foreigners or aliens he meant are those belonging to the families of diplomats. The simpler reading is to construe the sentence as what it is: a list of excluded categories.
Senator James Doolittle of Wisconsin was troubled by Howard’s language, not because he wanted to find a way to include any foreigners or aliens, but because he wanted to ensure that American Indians remained excluded. Howard (and, ultimately, the Senate) thought Doolittle’s proposed clarification unnecessary. As Howard pointed out:
Indians born within the limits of the United States, and who maintain their tribal relations, are not, in the sense of this amendment, born subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. They are regarded, and always have been in our legislation and jurisprudence, as being quasi-foreign nations.
It is, or should be, clear that language denying citizenship to people born within the United States on the theory that they were subject to ’quasi-foreign nations’ must exclude the children of people who have broken this country’s laws in entering it, and whose whole allegiance is to entirely foreign nations.[More]
The point is that if you can deny citizenship to a guy because his father was employed in the embassy, why are we granting birthright citizenship to illegal immigrants living underground in America?