Are babies born during the U.S. evacuation in Afghanistan American citizens?

AP Photo/Mohammad Asif Khan

It’s reported that three babies have been born to Afghan women during evacuation operations. The stories are a welcome relief to the truly harrowing stories blanketing our screens this week, only to get even worse today after the terror attacks at and near the Kabul airport. The circle of life goes on even in the worst of situations.

On Saturday, August 21, a baby was born on board an Air Force evacuation flight. A pregnant Afghan woman went into labor, blamed on the lowered air pressure. Upon arrival in Germany, two more women delivered babies. Pentagon press secretary John Kirby confirmed the news on August 24 – one baby was born on a C-17 and the other two were born at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

The baby born on the C-17 Globemaster has been given a unique name by its parents. The baby is named Reach, after the call sign of the aircraft – Reach 828. That baby was born during the aircraft’s final descent so it was already a dramatic birth story. The U.S. European Command’s boss told reporters the baby’s name Wednesday.

“And as you can well imagine, being an Air Force fighter pilot, it’s my dream to watch that young child called Reach grow up and be a U.S. citizen and fly United States Air Force fighters in our Air Force,” Gen. Tod Wolters told reporters.

Photos of the baby’s mother exiting the aircraft on a gurney circulated Saturday. She had gone into labor mid-flight, prompting the pilot to lower the aircraft’s altitude to help stabilize her blood pressure long enough to delay delivery until they had landed.

Once on the ground, medics and an Army labor and delivery nurse came aboard and delivered Reach in the cargo bay, while other evacuees help up scarves to protect her privacy.

That’s a great story. The pilot did what he could to help out, as did other evacuees, as the baby was delivered in the cargo bay. Any woman who has ever delivered a baby can tell you that personal modesty is the first thing to go out the window during the process. The births of the other two babies are certainly to be celebrated, too. The births raised a question in media coverage, though. Are the babies now considered American citizens?

The State Department answers that question – no. The babies are not American citizens or hold duo citizenship.

According to U.S. State Department policy, children born on a military plane or an airbase outside of the country are not eligible for American citizenship.

As per the information provided in Airforce Magazine, a monthly journal of the Air Force Association, “A U.S. registered aircraft outside U.S. airspace is not considered to be part of U.S. territory. A child born on such an aircraft outside U.S. airspace does not acquire U.S. citizenship by reason of the place of birth.”

Kirby confirmed that he wasn’t aware that any of the babies were born as American citizens. “I am told that moms and dads and babies are all fine and healthy and all is looking good there,” Kirby said.

Military bases outside the USA are not part of the country “in relation to birthright citizenship,” according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. A baby born on a U.S.-registered aircraft outside U.S. airspace is not considered to be born in the USA, according to the State Department.

The Air Mobility Command, a division of the U.S. Air Force, tweeted Saturday that an Afghan mother gave birth to her daughter aboard the C-17 aircraft that landed at Ramstein Air Base.

“During a flight from an Intermediate Staging Base in the Middle East, the mother went into labor and began having complications,” the command tweeted.

“The aircraft commander decided to descend in altitude to increase air pressure in the aircraft, which helped stabilize and save the mother’s life,” the social media message continued.

A medical team on the aircraft handled the delivery as the mother experienced some complications.

A nurse who helped deliver the baby girl told CNN her team was “expecting the worst, hoping for the best” as the Afghan mother gave birth. U.S. Army Capt. Erin Brymer said that when she reached the plane, fellow female evacuees were holding up shawls to give the mother privacy on the flight.

“I actually feel quite honored and humbled to be a part of this mission. And just kind of – the sheer humanity of this,” Brymer told the outlet. “I mean, we’re people, they’re people. We both want the same things, healthy and strong mamas and babies.”

Baby Reach is a girl. She will grow up in a considerably better environment now, thanks to the U.S. military. The Taliban in charge of Afghanistan will make life unbearably difficult for women and children, as females will lose what freedoms they gained in recent years. We can use all the good news stories we can get during this humanitarian tragedy brought about by the Biden administration.