August 8, 2023
By William Davis
The U.S. has long been a magnet for illegal immigration, and no policy has had more of a magnetic force than the guarantee of birthright citizenship for children of illegal aliens.
It has become accepted as U.S. policy that children born to illegal aliens on U.S. soil automatically gain citizenship, but now at least one member of Congress is seeking to change this.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) introduced legislation last month that would end unqualified birthright citizenship for the children of illegal aliens, while still allowing children born to refugees, permanent residents, and members of the military to obtain citizenship.
The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”
This has long been interpreted by anti-borders activists as a guarantee of citizenship for any child of illegal aliens who happens to be born on U.S. soil, but this theory runs afoul of an 1898 Supreme Court holding, in the case of United States v. Wong Kim Ark, that children born in the U.S. to aliens are citizens only “so long as” their parents had permission to be in the country. Unfortunately, this still-binding interpretation of the Constitution has been suppressed and forgotten.
The resulting acceptance of birthright citizenship has encouraged pregnant women all over the world to come to the U.S. before they give birth in order to “guarantee” U.S. citizenship for their children. A 2018 report from NBC News detailed the growing phenomena known as “birth tourism,” where expectant women from countries including Russia and China have scheduled trips to the U.S. shortly before their due date. This is an absurd way to admit new citizens, and unbecoming of the most powerful nation in the world.
In fact, on the issue of birthright citizenship, the U.S. is an outlier compared to the rest of the world. For example, France does not guarantee birthright citizenship unless at least one of the parents is a French citizen or the child is stateless. In Germany, at least one parent must be a permanent resident for a child born in the country to become a citizen. Birthright citizenship laws are similar in other European countries. If these types of laws were implemented in the U.S., it would be a far more sensible approach than a blanket guarantee of citizenship to anyone born on American soil.
The 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868, three years after the end of the American Civil War, in order to ensure citizenship for former slaves. It had nothing to do with immigration, and if the framers of the amendment understood that it would be used to guarantee citizenship to children of illegal aliens, it almost certainly never would have been ratified. The bastardization of the 14th Amendment to support birth tourism has been a major victory for the anti-borders movement, but a major blow to American sovereignty.
There are roughly 5.8 million anchor babies (children of illegal aliens) currently living in the U.S., according to a study from the Federation for American Immigration Reform. This number is bigger than the population of every U.S. city except for New York. The dangers pregnant women face while making the dangerous journey to the U.S. also cannot be overstated.
When millions of illegal aliens have exploited loopholes in our constitutional system to come to the U.S., it is incumbent upon lawmakers to close those loopholes. Whether through statute or constitutional amendment, it is time to end blanket birthright citizenship.
Many opponents of ending blanket birthright citizenship will claim that children could be rendered stateless, but other countries without such an extreme citizenship policy already make allowances for children who are stateless, as well as those who have parents of unknown origins. Any policy ending blanket birthright citizenship in the U.S. would almost certainly include the same protections.
Perhaps the main reason to end the practice of guaranteeing citizenship to everyone born on U.S. soil is that the current policy provides no tangible benefit to the country. The only people who benefit from blanket birthright citizenship are illegal aliens and those who exploit them. It is time to end this misguided policy and take a more common-sense approach.
William J. Davis is a communications associate for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of mass migration.
Also published at American Thinker, August 7, 2023.
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