Citizenship by birth
If you are born in the United States, you are a citizen of the country, regardless of the citizenship status of your parents. This is known as jus soli (“right of soil). Advocates for ending birthright citizenship talk about moving the United States to the same doctrine as many of the other countries in the world to change citizenship based on the status of your parents, this is known as jus sanguinis (“right of blood”). This is why when an undocumented immigrant has a child here, the child is a citizen. This is the legal doctrine that creates the idea and derogatory term as “anchor baby.” According to the Pew Hispanic Center, about 340,000 babies in 2008 were born to those here illegally.
More recently, in the last few years, at least, there has been increased scrutiny on maternity hotels in the United States. This is where immigrants from other countries will come to the United States for the expressed purpose of having their child so that the child can gain citizenship in the United States. Even those opposed to ending birthright citizenship note how this causes an increased difficulty for mothers and babies because the babies might not be properly cared for.
Some seemingly moderate Republicans have a view on ending birthright citizenship, such as Judge Richard Posner and Senator Lindsey Graham or Rand Paul. All think that it would be better practice to end this immigration practice in an effort to curb immigration. But these views have mainly been on the fringes of the Republican Party and outside the mainstream of the Democratic Party, as well.
There are many reasonns, looking back, where we should have known that the Republican Party, writ large, would captulate to their party’s nominee, whoeveer it was. The one that probably stood out the most at the time, that was undeercovered was when Donald Trump talked about ending birthright citizenship. May of the Republicans who were running decided to try to appease the leader in the polls istead of standing up for what they previously thought was right.
The most egregious example of one of the candidates bending over backwards waas former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. Jindal claimed his citizenship through his parents, almost explicitly through the idea of birthright citizenship. Jindal’s parents were not citizens but he was able to claim citizenship because of the fact that he was born in the United States.
Chris Christie and Scott Walker also came out in favor of ending birthright citizenship to gain favor with the Republican base that they needed to continue in their presidential runs.
Some of the Republican candidates had previous issues with the idea of birthright citizenship. This included the South Carolina Senator, Lindsey Graham, who once said that immigrants could “drop their babies and leave.”. This also included Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. Both of these Senators sponsored legislation ending birthright citizenship in the Senate.
The principled Conservative, John Kasich, previously supported ending birthright citizenship but ended up denouncing that end in his presidential run, this time around. He talked about reforming the immigration system that we have, including a path to citizenship for many of the undocumented immigrants, out there.
And some tried to hold strong to their values such as former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush and Florida Senator, Marco Rubio.
I’m not trying to pick on Republicans with this idea. Senator Harry Reid once offered up legislation to end birthright citizenship but over the course of the last 20 years, has moved from immigration hawk to an immigration reform advocate.
Ending birthright citizenship is not really an idea that can be laughed off, at this point. Republicans hold a trifecta in the federal government and will hold a majority on the Supreme Court once Trump puts his nomination through. Representative Steve King of Iowa will likely push his legislation of ending birthright citizenship the first day the House is in session, like he does seemingly every session, now.
The ending of birthright citizenship is a direct assault on the 14th Amendment of our Constitution that was passed at the end of the Civil War.
Because of this and because of the possibly high importance on this issue from both Congressional Republicans and the President elect, what I want to do is look at the history of birthright citizenship and why I think it is so important and ultimately talk about why the attacks on it are misguided and unfounded.