Mr. Adee to Mr. Iddings.
Washington, August 8, 1901.
Sir: I inclose herewith copy of a dispatch from the consul-general of the United States at Rome requesting instructions in regard to issuing passports to minors residing in Italy and born in the United States of alien parents, the particular case in point being that of a minor, Francesco Guarino, to whom a passport was issued by you against the consul-general’s representations.
The question raised by the consul-general is, in his own words, as follows:
Can a minor residing temporarily or permanently abroad, but born in the United States of alien parents who have never been naturalized nor intimated their intentions of becoming naturalized, be considered an American citizen? And is such minor entitled to an American passport?
The position of the Department is that birth in the United States, irrespective of the nationality of the parents, confers American citizenship; that no act of the parent can deprive the child of the status thus acquired, and that consequently such children, even though taken abroad by their parents, are entitled to be treated as citizens of the United States. In view of the decisions of our Federal courts, there can be no doubt of the correctness of this position. It has been almost uniformly held by our Federal courts that birth within the dominions and jurisdiction of the United States confers citizenship irrespective of the nationality of the parents. The question was squarely presented to the Supreme Court in 1897 in the case of Wong Kim Ark, who was born in the United States of parents who were subjects of the Emperor of China. In 1890, when he was 17 years of age, he went to China for a visit, returning to the United States the same year. He was permitted to enter the United States, and remained here until 1894, when he again went to China for a visit. He returned to the United States in 1895, but the collector of customs at San Francisco denied his application for admission on the ground that he was not a citizen of the United States. Upon habeas corpus the United States district court ordered him to be discharged on the ground that he was a citizen of [Page 304] the United States. The United States appealed to the United States Supreme Court, and that court (169 U. S., 649) affirmed the judgment of the lower court, thus authoritatively settling the question.
The question whether the father by removing the child from the jurisdiction of the United States or otherwise can deprive him of the citizenship conferred upon him by birth has also been passed upon by the Federal courts. In ex parte Chun King (35 Fed. Rep., 354) Judge Deady, in delivering the opinion of the United States circuit court, said:
In my judgment, the father can not deprive his minor child of the status of American citizenship impressed upon it by the circumstances of its birth under the Constitution and within the jurisdiction of the United States. This status once acquired can only be lost or changed by the act of the person when arrived al majority and the consent of the Government.
Your action in granting the passport was correct.
I am, etc.,