Citizenship Up In Air For Baby Born In Flight

Is a baby born on a flight to the U.S. a U.S. citizen?

Officials say that depends.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said a child born in airspace over American territory is eligible for citizenship.

A 7-pound, 8-ounce girl was born Wednesday onboard a Mexicana Airlines flight from Guadalajara, Mexico, to Chicago. The birth took place about an hour before the plane landed at O’Hare International Airport.

The Citizenship and Immigration spokeswoman said that if the parents want to pursue citizenship for their daughter, they’ll have to file an application.

Then officials would investigate whether the child was born in Mexican airspace or over international waters.

An obstetrician on board helped with the delivery. The 42-year-old mother was traveling with her husband and two other children to visit relatives in Milwaukee.

A hospital spokeswoman said mother and daughter are doing fine.

  1. rudedog says:

    Call me old fashion but if the child is born in international airspace, then why not simply go by the nationality of the mother and father? Hell you could even do that if the baby was born on the moon……..

  2. James says:

    Aren’t women far into their pregnancy not supposed to travel? Especially large distances and in an airplane?

  3. Raff says:

    I’m sure that must have been a pleasant experience for everyone else on board..

    Ever smell a baby being born? No? Just reach up and twist that little knob by the light switch that blows air.

  4. Smartalix says:

    The parents can file and obtain US citizenship if they are citizens, but the child’s status concerning natural-born versus acquired citizenship is under question. For example, both of my daughters are citizens, but only my eldest can be President.

  5. Tom Hise says:

    The law is (I believe) someone born in the US is a US citizen. Also I believe that the US claims airspace over its territory. So if the plane was in US airspace the child is a US citizen. Why not?

    On the other part of the thread — people have been born in all sorts of circumstances. Why penalize one particular situation?

  6. Smartalix says:


    You are correct, but since the plane originated outside of US airspace it must be verified that the plane was over the US when the child was born.

  7. a says:

    Since plane is Mexican, doesn’t this mean that it is a territory of Mexico, just like embassy or consulate?

  8. spsffan says:

    Excuse me…she was about to pop and was traveling to Milwaukee to visit family?

    Maybe she really was going to visit, since my guess is that people from Guadalajara don’t tend to vacation in Milwaukee in December as a general rule, but….
    Anyone think that perhaps she was also planning to have baby in the US so it would be an automatic citizen but started labor a bit earlier than expected?

  9. Lou says:

    who really cares, as long as they were above US airspace legally.

    What needs to be constitutionally amended is that a child born of ILLEGAL immigrants should not be eligible for citizenship. Assuming you agree that being a citizen is a positive thing, anything that results from a crime/criminal action should not be allowed.

    I really am completely unsure what level of immigration we want or need in this country, breaking the law is breaking the law.

  10. Elvis Ripley says:

    SPACE BABIES! Between the head and the feet coming out the mother might travel thousands of miles in orbit. I can’t wait to read Dvorak’s grandchildren write about it.

  11. tallwookie says:

    “…from Guadalajara, Mexico, to Chicago…” um yeah…

    I’m not really suprised here – mexicans have been doing this for years now – just cuz they’re “upgrading” to flight now doesnt mean anything

  12. Named says:

    Wow, you people really hate mexicans…

    First, the airspace of a country is sovereign to the country. Do you think the US would allow any nation to just fly over your land just because they’re in an airplane? No.

    Second, the baby didn’t choose to fly. Maybe mom had an ulterior motive, but what does that have to do with the baby and it’s citizenship? Should the mother be thrown in jail for immigration violation? Should the baby be deported? Seriously, a birth of a baby is a good thing. If the baby grows up being a taxpayer, that’s all the government, and you, should care about.

    Third, to #3. You must be a child hating homosexual, or a child hating heterosexual. The birth of my daughter was the most amazing experience ever. And after that experience, if I ever see a woman going into birth outside of a hospital / safe and controlled environment, I’m going to be right there… getting water, cloths, shoelaces… whatever I can do. Kinda how the Minutemen are there to watch the Canadian border from us evil Cannuckistans.

    And 6. The plane was 1 hour from o’Hare in Chigaco. Sure, it could put it in Toronto, but I don’t know of many Guadelajara – Toronto – Chicago flights.

    2. Yes. But it’s up to the discretion of the airline, and the honesty of the passenger to make that determination. The baby is innocent.

  13. doug says:

    #9. and the sins of the fathers shall be passed on to the sons …

    Anyone born in the US of A is an American. period. and that’s a good thing, regardless of what misdemeanors their parents may have committed getting here.

  14. lou says:

    #13, Doug: I am not for “punishing” the kid. Yes, according the constitution the kid is a citizen. But the parent’s are not, and should return to where they came from. The kid should enjoy all the rights of being a citizen, but having your parents in this country is *not* one of them. Many naturalized citizens do not have their parents here, and there is *no* automatic family reunification.

    “Anyone born in the US of A is an American. period. and that’s a good thing” Nice sentiment in that last phrase, but I fail to see why its true. There are lots of people that are born in this good ole’ USA (from citizens and illegals) that are, as the british say, arseholes, that we would have been, as a country, better off if they’ve never been born (I’ll use Charles Manson and Jeffery Dahmer as examples of births we could have done without).

    As to the new wave of immigrants, there are fundamental differences between what happened 75 plus years ago and now. One important thing: back then, the *only* thing an immigrant was entitled to in this country was an education for children. Not food, not shelter, not healthcare. Immigrants cost money now, and taxpayers have a right to at least discuss how this money is being spent. I am not advocating that people should starve and get sick, but it is our “house” and we as a country have a right to make decisions on who can and will partake of our kindness and charity. We all make decisions like that in our personal and family lives, in that I doubt every excess $ above the poverty line goes to help others. Our country is just an expansion of that frame of reference, we are entitled to decide where are charity goes.

  15. Smartalix says:


    That’s just sad. America is all about the sins of the fathers not being visited upon the sons.

  16. tallwookie says:

    #12 “…birth of my daughter was the most amazing experience ever…”

    Um ok – did you WATCH the birth? If so, you need to seek psychiatric assistance, because, while i appreciate the fact we dont hatch from eggs (and the majority of women dont have the patience to sit in one place for 9 months), live birth is DISGUSTNG.

    Sreriously dude, seek proffesional help pronto

  17. Named says:


    Let’s say I saw the whole experience. But in your demented fantasy I did not have my head stuck in her my wife’s ass for the duration of the birth. I saw my wife go through pain, saw her amazing internal strength, saw my daughter’s appearance in the world. It was not disgusting. It was miraculous. And, I’m sure that normal people would agree, the experience of birth is detached from any morbid sexual fantasies you may imagine it to be.

  18. doug says:

    #15. Ah, but that is the thing – it would be punishing the child. Anyone ELSE born in the USA is a citizen, but not him. Why is he singled out? Because of an offense his parents committed.

    We certainly do have the right to control our borders, but changing the fundamental nature of American citizenship to deal with a temporary phenomenon (the current influx of illegals) seems overblown.

    #17 & 18. I can see how watching your own child being born would be something special, but watching someone else’s is another story.

  19. Miguel Correia says:

    As I think I remember my air law subject, under the ICAO rules, the territory the baby was born in was the aircraft’s registered nationality. So, if the plane was registered in, say, Papua New Guinee, his birthplace ought to be considered that country.

    Now, birthplace is one thing, nationality of the child another and citizenship yet another thing. In the meanwhile I found this interesting explanation about their relationships.

  20. Named says:

    Can I just mention that the parents were on a flight to Chigaco? Not stuffed in a minivan seat. They obviously cleared customs, had tickets and were not one of the 6 billion people on the TSA watch list.

    19. True. But you don’t have to watch a child birth from the porno crotch level to help. You can view everything from above, so to speak.

  21. Steph says:

    wisconsin pops into the news in the WEIRDEST ways, i swear.

  22. Uncle Dave says:

    #23: Having grown up in Wisconsin, there were certainly times I would have to agree. Of course a state that produced people like Jeffery Dahmer (who lived one street over from the road I used to take to get to work every day) to Ed Gein who inspired both the movies Psycho (for wearing the skins of his female victims) and Texas Chainsaw Massacre is bound to be interesting.

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