US clueless on citizenship to cloned babies

The US State Department is worried about granting citizenship to cloned babies. "A citizenship application for a cloned baby would break new ground and require substantial consultation with lawyers before it could be reviewed," Deputy spokesman said.
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Updated on Jan 10, 2003 06:03 PM IST
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PTI | ByAgence France-Presse, Washington

The US State Department said on Monday that it would be at a complete loss if the American mother of a purportedly cloned child applied for a US passport or sought citizenship for her daughter.

Deputy spokesman Philip Reeker said such an application would break new ground and require substantial consultation with lawyers before it could be reviewed.

"In the hypothetical situation of a cloned baby, this would be a new situation and therefore at this time we would be unable to determine how US laws regarding nationality would apply to this child," Reeker said.

"It is something that lawyers would have to look at in the event that the hypothetical situation was to actually be a situation that would have to be dealt with," he said.

Reeker said he was not aware that the matter was currently under discussion by the State Department, which issues US passports and serves as a conduit for nationality questions about children of US citizens born abroad.

His comments came in response to questions raised by the claim of a cult that says a cloned girl, born abroad to a 31-year-old American woman last week, would be heading "home" on Monday.

At a news conference on Friday, Brigitte Boisselier, president of the group's cloning company, Clonaid, claimed, without providing proof, that a baby girl cloned from her mother had been born on Thursday by Ceasarian section at a hospital outside the United States.

She said that baby, named Eve, would return home in three days.

That led to speculation that the child would be coming to the United States and on Monday US television commentators questioned the propriety of bringing the several-days old baby back to the United States aboard an airplane even if the child could get immigration papers.

But Boisselier has declined to say where "home" is and denied having ever said the child was be traveling to the United States.

"I don't know who talked about a plane, and she is not necessarily returning to the United States," she told AFP. "I only said that she would go home."

The claim has sparked a massive controversy and brought the cloning issue to the forefront of an international debate over the legality and morality of the procedure.

In the United States, the White House has said the claim "underscores the need for the new Congress to act on bipartisan legislation to ban all human cloning."

The case may also open an entirely new area of immigration law, Reeker suggested.

Under current US legislation, children are not allowed to travel on the passport of their parent or parents and must have their own documents to enter the United States if born abroad.

However, children born to US citizens abroad are not necessarily automatically entitled to US citizenship themselves.

"The American citizen parent, or parents, is, or are, required to meet certain requirements of US residence as established by the Immigration and Nationality Act in order to transmit citizenship to the child," Reeker said.

Those requirements do not take into account the possibility of a clone child applying either for US citizenship or a passport, he said.

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