US immigration

Donald Trump says no other country has birthright citizenship. That’s not true

  • Birthright citizenship in the US is based on the 14th Amendment
  • More than 30 other countries recognise birthright citizenship
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 October, 2018, 11:50am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 October, 2018, 9:32pm

In reviving the debate on birthright citizenship for children of those who immigrate to the US illegally, President Donald Trump on Tuesday claimed the nation is the “only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years with all of those benefits.”

That’s far from true.

The US is among more than 30 countries that give automatic citizenship to children born to nearly anybody living within a country’s borders.

Birthright citizenship in the US is based on the 14th Amendment, which was adopted after the Civil War to address the rights of freed slaves.

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Here’s a sampling of how the US compares to other nations on citizenship requirements.


Anyone born in Canada is a citizen, regardless of their parents’ citizenship. The country’s Conservative Party has complained about the law and what it describes as “birth tourism,” when pregnant women come to Canada so their children will gain citizenship. But the party had been unsuccessful in changing the rule.


Mexican law says that anyone born “within the Republic’s territory whatever their parents’ nationality might be” is a Mexican national. Mexico does not consider people to be citizens – even if their parents are – until they turn 18, which is when they can vote, hold office or join the military.


The country is unique for its citizenship rules. The Law of Return, in place since 1950, allows any Jew the right to immigrate to Israel and become a citizen. But a child born in Israel is a citizen only if a parent has citizenship.


Children born in France to foreign parents are not automatically citizens. But they become citizens when they turn 18, as long as they have lived in the country for five years since age 11.


A child born to a non-German citizen can be a citizen from birth only if a parent has been in the country for eight years with the legal status of “unlimited residency”.

Children are also allowed to keep their parents’ citizenship until age 21, if the other nation allows it, though there are exceptions that allow dual citizenship for longer.


Unlike the US or European nations that tend to allow a mix of citizenship by birth and by blood, Japan’s strict rules give children citizenship only if born to a Japanese national. There are few exceptions, including cases where a parent’s nationality cannot be determined.


South America’s most populous country is similar to the US in bestowing citizenship to any child born within its borders.


Until 1986, anyone born in Australia was a citizen. Today, children become citizens at birth only if a parent is a citizen or permanent resident.


In the vast majority of cases, a newborn gets citizenship only if a parent is a Chinese national.