Trump administration ends automatic US citizenship for some military, federal workers' children born overseas

The Trump administration is making it more difficult for children of some United States service members and government employees living abroad to automatically claim citizenship.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said Wednesday it altered a policy that allowed some members of the military and federal workers to transfer citizenship to their children born overseas.

The rule, which goes into effect at the end of October, appears to mostly affect children of naturalized U.S. citizens serving in the armed forces who have not lived in the U.S. for a required period of time. The U.S. Department of Defense estimates there are roughly 100 such cases every year. The rule also affects certain U.S. government employees living abroad.

Department of Defense spokeswoman Lt. Col. Carla M. Gleason said in a statement that the department worked closely with USCIS and "understands the estimated impact of this particular change is small."

"However, we are committed to ensuring affected families are provided the appropriate information, resources, and support during this transition," Gleason said.

The policy manual update is highly technical and contradicts parts of an 11-page memo the agency initially put out that implied American citizens were among those whose children would no longer be automatically granted citizenship if born abroad.

Agency spokeswoman Meredith Parker told the military news organization Task and Report that the policy change "explains that we will not consider children who live abroad with their parents to be residing in the United States even if their parents are U.S. government employees or U.S. service members stationed outside of the United States, and as a result, these children will no longer be considered to have acquired citizenship automatically."

Her boss, acting director Ken Cuccinelli, played down the changes in a Twitter statement, saying the update doesn't deny citizenship to children of government and military members.

"This policy aligns USCIS' process with the Department of State's procedures for these children - that's it. Period."

The policy change is yet another roadblock that the Trump administration has placed for people to live legally in the United States, said immigration attorney Martin W. Lester, who is based in Tennessee and who serves on the military assistance committee of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

It appears to target children of service members who are legal permanent residents and not U.S. citizens, but could also affect citizens if they can't prove they lived in the U.S. for a certain amount of time. People in those scenarios would have to undergo a more cumbersome process for obtaining American citizenship for their kids.

ABC News contributed to this report.
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