Thursday, April 28, 2011

renounce what?

i don't think it's entirely clear that superman has u.s. citizenship to give up. superman was adopted as a baby by sam and molly kent. but was he legally adopted, or did the kents just informally take him in and raised him, pretending that he was their biological child? if it's the latter, superman's citizenship would be a fraud and he would not really be a legal citizen. if it's the former...

under currently law, superman would need a special adoption visa to enter the country. that visa would then become his path to citizenship. because krypton is not a signatory to the hague convention, little kal-el would need either an IR-3 or IR-4 visa. an IR-3 requires both parents to have met the child before s/he enters the U.S., and at least one parent must have an interview with the child at a u.s. consulate before they bring the child to the u.s. the IR-4 also involves a consular interview before the child enters the u.s. both the IR-3 and IR-4 visas are issued by that u.s. consulate in the foreign country of origin. the u.s. had no diplomatic relations with krypton and there were no u.s. consulates that could have issued either the IR-3 or IR-4 visa. also, no competent authority in the kryptonian government ever awarded custody or parental rights to the kents, so even if there were a consulate, the kal-el would not have been eligible for either visa.

at least that's how the process works now. on the other hand the IR-3 and IR-4 visas were created by the child and citizenship act of 2000. it's not clear to me what the process was in 1938, or even if there was any process in existence. international adoption by u.s. citizens did not happen in substantial numbers until after world war two, so there probably was not a formal framework for allowing foreign children to enter the country. however, under the immigration act of 1924 the u.s. would only legally admit the number of aliens equal to 2% of the total number of people from that country who were in the u.s. in 1890 per year. because there were zero kryptonians living in the u.s. in 1890, superman would have been completely excluded from legally emigrating to the u.s.

thus, superman is probably not a u.s. citizen. that is, unless he got in on one of the seven amnesty programs that congress passed since 1986. but if he did, i must have missed that issue. i was a pretty avid comic book reader between the late 80s and the mid-90s.