The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads in part:
Babies born to illegal alien mothers within U.S. borders are called anchor babies because under the 1965 immigration Act, they act as an anchor that pulls the illegal alien mother and eventually a host of other relatives into permanent U.S. residency. (Jackpot babies is another term).
Post-Civil War reforms focused on injustices to African Americans. The 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868 to protect the rights of native-born Black Americans, whose rights were being denied as recently-freed slaves. It was written in a manner so as to prevent state governments from ever denying citizenship to blacks born in the United States. But in 1868, the United States had no formal immigration policy, and the authors therefore saw no need to address immigration explicitly in the amendment.
Senator Jacob Howard worked closely with Abraham Lincoln in drafting and passing the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which abolished slavery. He also served on the Senate Joint Committee on Reconstruction, which drafted the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. In 1866, Senator Jacob Howard clearly spelled out the intent of the 14th Amendment by writing:
The phrase "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" was intended to exclude American-born persons from automatic citizenship whose allegiance to the United States was not complete. With illegal aliens who are unlawfully in the United States, their native country has a claim of allegiance on the child. Thus, the completeness of their allegiance to the United States is impaired, which therefore precludes automatic citizenship.
The correct interpretation of the 14th Amendment is that an illegal alien mother is subject to the jurisdiction of her native country, as is her baby.
Over a century ago, the Supreme Court correctly confirmed this restricted interpretation of citizenship in the so-called 'Slaughter-House cases' [83 US 36 (1873)] and in [112 US 94 (1884)]. In Elk v.Wilkins, the phrase 'subject to its jurisdiction' excluded from its operation 'children of ministers, consuls, and citizens of foreign states born within the United States.' In Elk, the American Indian claimant was considered not an American citizen because the law required him to be 'not merely subject in some respect or degree to the jurisdiction of the United States, but completely subject to their political jurisdiction and owing them direct and immediate allegiance.'
Congress subsequently passed a special act to grant full citizenship to American Indians, who were not citizens even through they were born within the borders of the United States. The Citizens Act of 1924, codified in 8USCSß1401, provides that:
The original intent of the 14th Amendment was clearly not to facilitate illegal aliens defying U.S. law and obtaining citizenship for their offspring, nor obtaining benefits at taxpayer expense. Current estimates indicate there may be over 300,000 anchor babies born each year in the U.S., thus causing illegal alien mothers to add more to the U.S. population each year than immigration from all sources in an average year before 1965.
Australia rescinded birthright citizenship in 2007, as did New Zealand in 2006, Ireland in 2005, France in 1993, and the United Kingdom in 1983. This leaves the United States and Canada as the only remaining industrialized nations to grant automatic citizenship to every person born within the borders of the country, irrespective of their parents' nationality or immigration status.
American citizens must be wary of elected politicians voting to illegally extend our generous social benefits to illegal aliens and other criminals.
For more information, see:
By P.A. Madison, The Federalist Blog, December 17, 2005
Ever since the subject of Congress taking up Birthright Citizenship have we seen the power of ignorance at work through the MSM [MainStream Media]. It is difficult to find any editorial or wire story that correctly gives the reader an honest and accurate historical account of the Fourteenth Amendment in regards to children born to foreign parents within the United States. Most often the media presents a fabled and inaccurate account of just what the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment means.
Recent story lines go something like this: "Currently the Constitution says that a person born in this country is an American citizen. That's it. No caveats." The problem with these sort of statements other than being plainly false is that it reinforces a falsehood that has become viewed as a almost certain fact through such false assertions over time.
This is like insisting the sun rotates around the earth while ignoring the body of evidence to the contrary.
During the reconstruction period following the civil war the view on citizenship was that only children born to American parents owing allegiance to no other foreign power could be declared an American Citizen upon birth on U.S. soil. This is exactly the language of the civil rights bill of 1866: "All persons born in the United States and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed, are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States."
The author of the Fourteenth Amendment, Rep. John A Bingham (OH), responded to the above declaration as follows: "I find no fault with the introductory clause, which is simply declaratory of what is written in the Constitution, that every human being born within the jurisdiction of the United States of parents not owing allegiance to any foreign sovereignty is, in the language of your Constitution itself, a natural born citizen."
Already before we get to the Fourteenth Amendment Citizenship Clause we have the entire Congress declaring only children born to parents who owe no foreign allegiance shall be citizens. We also have the author of the Fourteenth Amendment declaring this is law of the land. It just gets worst for advocates who want to either believe or, revise history, to support their fable that the Fourteenth Amendment somehow magically makes anyone born in the United States regardless of the allegiance of their parents a natural born citizen.
Sen. Jacob Howard, who wrote the Fourteenth's Citizenship Clause believed the same thing as Bingham as evidenced by his introduction of the clause to the US Senate as follows:
Advocates for birthright citizenship for aliens either through ignorance, or deception, attempt to pretend "subject to the jurisdiction" means only one thing: location at time of birth. It does not, and never had such a meaning during the time period in question. The record of law is full of references to jurisdiction that had nothing to do with physical location. Take for example title XXX of 1875, sec 2165 where is states:
Simply being on US soil (limits) does not automatically put you under US jurisdiction like some pro alien advocates would like to believe. Under the common myth of the meaning -- simply being within the limits of a State automatically places an alien under US jurisdiction for Fourteenth Amendment purposes. It does not as Bingham and Howard plainly makes clear as well as laws regarding the subject at the time also make clear.
So than, what exactly did subject to the jurisdiction mean? Sen. Lyman Trumbull, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, framer of the Thirteenth Amendment told us in clear language what the phrase means under the Fourteenth:
Sen. Jacob M. Howard, responded to Trumbull's construction by saying:
One might wonder why did Jacob Howard use the phrase "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" rather than the language of the civil rights bill of 1866 and 1870? The answer is simple: there was confusion over what a Indian’s allegiance might be and most everyone in Congress at the time did not want to give blanket citizenship to all Indians across the board.
In other words, it was feared by some that an Indian might be considered to owe no allegiance to any foreign power, and therefore, could become a citizen at birth. Since Indians were not under the direct jurisdiction of the United States (they were under the jurisdiction of their respected tribes) the language of the Fourteenth Amendment would disqualify them. This is why the language of the Citizenship Clause ended up different than the language of the civil rights bill of 1866 and 1870 and made more restrictive as to who could become a citizen by birth.
Myths can be difficult to dispose of, and birthright citizenship to aliens is no exception. Pro immigration advocates will refer to the Supreme Court ruling U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark as a desperate attempt to keep the fable alive. The problem with relying on Wong Kim Ark is that it draws zero support from the Fourteenth Amendment. In fact, the ruling had nothing to with the Fourteenth Amendment at all, but everything to do with English Common Law, something the Fourteenth's Citizenship Clause had no connection because it was a virtue of "national law."
There is other significant problems with the Wong Kim Ark ruling other than having no basis in Fourteenth Amendment text, intent and history that will never hold up under review -- and that is how will any court with a straight face attempt to reconcile the civil rights bill of 1870. Remember that civil rights bill declared those children born to parents subject to a foreign power cannot be declared United States citizens.
You cannot simply revise he Fourteenth's Citizenship Clause to mean yes, it really was the intent of the Congress to grant citizenship to alien children born on US soil when the same Congress enacted law afterwards that did just the reverse. Try and explain why Congress would pass a Constitutional Amendment that grants citizenship to ANYONE born in the US and then turn around and pass a law that would deny automatic citizenship to aliens? Because you cannot, only leads us back to the to the exact construction of the clause for which it was intended and written to mean.
The Wong Kim Ark ruling is so badly flawed and irrelevant probably lead to the US Supreme Court in 1982 to say they "had never confirmed birthright citizenship for the children of illegal aliens."
By far the most relevant Supreme Court ruling on the subject to date, and indeed, fully supported by the Fourteenth Amendment itself came in Elk v. Wilkins 112 U.S. 94 (1884), where the court held that the phrase "subject to the jurisdiction" requires "direct and immediate allegiance" to the United States, not just physical presence.
If pro immigration groups or individuals want to continue in believing the Fourteenth Amendment grants citizenship to anyone born in the country regardless of their allegiance, fine -- but to continue to insist the Fourteenth Amendment supports their fable is both feeble and a disrespect to American history.
Reproduced under Creative Commons license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.5/)
Read the complete article.
By Al Knight, Denver Post, June 22, 2005
There's nothing quite as important as timing in politics. A fact that might go unnoticed for years can, at the right moment, help change the direction of national policy.
Consider the issue of anchor babies and what, if anything, should be done about them. Anchor babies, for those not yet familiar with the term, is the description given to babies of illegal immigrants who are delivered in the United States. These babies, under current interpretation of U.S. law, automatically become U.S. citizens and most qualify immediately for a variety of benefits, including Medicaid. Over time, they can open the door to citizenship to other family members.
Last week, there was a flurry of national news stories announcing the current estimate that 300,000 such babies are born each year in this country.
... Most people, however, would find the number somewhat shocking. Indeed, the news stories set off a new flurry of debate over whether the existing provisions relating to what is called birthright citizenship can or should be changed.
There is a special intensity in this discussion in some states - including California, Texas and Florida - with high anchor baby populations. But the issue is also being noticed in places like Georgia, where the number of anchor babies doubled from 5,133 in 2000 to 11,180 in 2002. Several years ago in Colorado, the number of such births was estimated at more than 6,000.
A measure pending in Congress would change the Constitution to deny citizenship rights to babies born to illegal immigrants. The proposed amendment is currently given little or no chance of passage but it certainly helps to focus attention on the nature of the problem.
More than a dozen years ago, Peter Schuck and Rogers Smith put it this way in their article "Consensual Citizenship," in the magazine Chronicles: "The present guarantee under American law of automatic birthright citizenship to the children of illegal aliens can operate ... as one more incentive to illegal migration and violation by nonimmigrant aliens already here. When this attraction is combined with the powerful lure of expanded entitlements conferred upon citizen children and their families by the modern welfare state, the total incentive effect of birthright citizenship may well become significant."
That passage was written in 1992 when the number of such births was estimated at less than 150,000 per year. Since then, the number has more than doubled.
The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that "all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States."
At the time the amendment was approved, the author of the clause, Sen. Jacob M. Howard, said the phrase relating to jurisdiction meant, "This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners ... ."
In subsequent years, the courts invalidated the assurances of Howard; at this stage, an amendment to the Constitution seems the only means available to change the law....
Not so long ago in Ireland, there was a policy of granting residency and possible citizenship to anyone who had a baby there. In Dublin hospitals, births to foreigners made up 25 percent of the total. That fact forced a change in Ireland's constitution in 2004. It now reads:
"Notwithstanding any other provision, a person born on the island of Ireland who does not have at the time of birth of that person at least one parent who is an Irish citizen or entitled to be an Irish citizen is not entitled to Irish citizenship or nationality unless provided by law."
Change a couple of words, and it is a safe bet that that amendment would receive a high level of popular support in the United States.
A Denver talk show host recently announced confidently that the current policy on anchor babies could never be changed in this country. But then, a few years ago, no one in Ireland thought that the country's constitution could be amended, either.
Al Knight of Fairplay is a former member of The Post's editorial-page staff. His columns appear on Wednesday.
By P.A. Madison
Former Research Fellow in Constitutional Studies
February 1, 2005
We well know how the courts and laws have spoken on the subject of children born to non-citizens (illegal aliens) within the jurisdiction of the United States by declaring them to be American citizens. But what does the constitution of the United States say about the issue of giving American citizenship to anyone born within its borders? As we explore the constitutions citizenship clause, as found in the Fourteenth Amendment, we can find no constitutional authority to grant such citizenship to persons born to non-American citizens within the limits of the United States of America.
We are, or should be, familiar with the phrase, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the States wherein they reside." This can be referred to as the citizenship clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, but what does "subject to the jurisdiction" mean? Jurisdiction can take on different meanings that can have nothing to do with physical boundaries alone--and if the framers meant geographical boundaries they would have simply used the term "limits" rather than "jurisdiction" since that was the custom at the time when distinguishing between physical boundaries and reach of law.
Fortunately, we have the highest possible authority on record to answer this question of how the term "jurisdiction" was to be interpreted and applied, the author of the citizenship clause, Sen. Jacob M. Howard (MI) to tell us exactly what it means and its intended scope as he introduced it to the United States Senate in 1866:
It is clear the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment had no intention of freely giving away American citizenship to just anyone simply because they may have been born on American soil, something our courts have wrongfully assumed. But what exactly did "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" mean to the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment? Again, we are fortunate to have on record the highest authority to tell us, Sen. Lyman Trumbull, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, author of the Thirteenth Amendment, and the one who inserted the phrase:
Sen. Howard concurs with Trumbull's construction:
In other words, only children born to American citizens can be considered citizens of the United States since only a American citizen could enjoy the "extent and quality" of jurisdiction of an American citizen now. Sen. Johnson, speaking on the Senate floor, offers his comments and understanding of the proposed new amendment to the constitution:
[Now], all this amendment [citizenship clause] provides is, that all persons born in the United States and not subject to some foreign Power--for that, no doubt, is the meaning of the committee who have brought the matter before us--shall be considered as citizens of the United States. That would seem to be not only a wise but a necessary provision. If there are to be citizens of the United States there should be some certain definition of what citizenship is, what has created the character of citizen as between himself and the United States, and the amendment says that citizenship may depend upon birth, and I know of no better way to give rise to citizenship than the fact of birth within the territory of the United States, born to parents who at the time were subject to the authority of the United States.
No doubt in the Senate as to what the citizenship clause means as further evidenced by Sen. W. Williams:
Rep. John Bingham of Ohio, considered the father of the Fourteenth Amendment, confirms the understanding and construction the framers used in regards to birthright and jurisdiction while speaking on civil rights of citizens in the House on March 9, 1866:
Further convincing evidence for the demand of complete allegiance required for citizenship can be found in the "Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America," an oath required to become an American citizen of the United States. It reads in part:
Of course, this very oath leaves no room for dual-citizenship, but that is another troubling disregard for our National principles by modern government. Fewer today are willing to renounce completely their allegiance to their natural country of origin, further making a mockery of our citizenship laws. In fact, recently in Los Angeles you could find the American flag discarded for the flag of Mexico in celebration after taking the American Citizenship Oath.
It's noteworthy to point out a Supreme Court ruling in Afroyim v. Rusk, 387 U.S. 253 (1967), where the court completely discarded the fourteenth's Citizenship Clause scope and intent by replacing it with their own invented Citizenship Clause. The court in effect, ruled that fourteenth amendment had elevated citizenship to a new constitutionally protected right, and thus, prevents the cancellation of a persons citizenship unless they assent.
Unfortunately for the court, Sen. Howard effectively shoots down this feeble attempt to replace his clause with their own homegrown Citizenship Clause. Firstly, Howard finds no incompatibility with expatriation and the fourteenth's Citizenship Clause when he says: "I take it for granted that when a man becomes a citizen of the United States under the Constitution he cannot cease to be a citizen, except by expatriation for the commission of some crime by which his citizenship shall be forfeited."
Secondly, Sen. Howard expressly stated, "I am not yet prepared to pass a sweeping act of naturalization by which all the Indian savages, wild or tame, belonging to a tribal relation, are to become my fellow-citizens and go to the polls and vote with me and hold lands and deal in every other way that a citizen of the United States has a right to do."
The question begs: If Howard had no intention of passing a sweeping act of naturalization--how does the court elevate Howard's Citizenship Clause to a new constitutionally protected right that cannot be taken away since this would certainly require a sweeping act with explicit language to enumerate such a new constitutional right? Remember, the court cannot create new rights that are not already expressly granted by the constitution.
A third problem for the court is the fact both Howard and Bingham viewed the citizenship clause as simply "declaratory" of what they regarded "as the law of the land already." This then requires flights of fantasy to elevate Howard's express purpose of inserting the Citizenship Clause as simply removing "all doubt as to what persons are or are not citizens of the United States," and not to elevate citizenship to a new protected constitutional right. Citizenship is a privilege, not a right as say the right to freedom of religion is, and therefore, can be taken away just as any other privilege can be.
James Madison defined who America seeked to be citizens among us along with some words of wisdom:
What does it all mean?
In a nutshell, it means this: The constitution of the United States does not grant citizenship at birth to just anyone who happens to be born within American borders. It is the allegiance (complete jurisdiction) of the child’s birth parents at the time of birth that determines the child’s citizenship--not geographical location. If the United States does not have complete jurisdiction, for example, to compel a child’s parents to Jury Duty–then the U.S. does not have the total, complete jurisdiction demanded by the Fourteenth Amendment to make their child a citizen of the United States by birth. How could it possibly be any other way?
The framers succeeded in their desire to remove all doubt as to what persons are or are not citizens of the United States. They also succeeded in making both their intent and construction clear for future generations of courts and government. Whether our government or courts will start to honor and uphold the supreme law of the land for which they are obligated to by oath, is another very disturbing matter.
. Congressional Globe, 39th Congress (1866) pg. 2890
. Id. at 2893
. Id. at 2895
. Id. at 2893
. Id. at 2897
. Id. at 1291
. James Madison on Rule of Naturalization, 1st Congress, Feb. 3, 1790.
Permission is granted to use, copy or republish this article in its entirely only.
By Al Knight, Denver Post, September 11, 2002
The term "anchor baby" is unfamiliar to most Americans, but it nicely describes one of the more troubling aspects of American immigration policy.
Put simply, an anchor baby is the offspring of an illegal immigrant who, under current legal interpretation, becomes a U.S. citizen at birth and, in turn, is the means by which parents and relatives can also obtain citizenship for themselves by using the family reunification features of immigration law.
It's estimated there may be as many as 200,000 anchor babies born each year in the U.S. No single agency keeps track, but there is abundant, if fragmented, evidence that births are not limited to areas near the Mexican border.
In a recent year in Colorado, the state's emergency Medicaid program paid an estimated $30 million in hospital and physician delivery costs for about 6,000 illegal immigrant mothers. And the Nashville Tennessean reported last year that the Metro General Hospital in Davidson County had recorded 511 births during a one-year period, two-thirds of them to illegal immigrants.
...Friends of Immigration Law Enforcement, claims, "There is a huge and growing industry in Asia that arranges tourist visas for pregnant woman so they can fly to the United States and give birth to an American."
Although the exact number of such births is unknown, what is known is that, except for a limited exception applying to children of diplomats, every child born on U.S. soil currently earns what is called "birthright citizenship."
The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads, in part, "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."
That same amendment also says, "The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article."
Congress, of course, has done no such thing, although legislation has been introduced that would deny citizenship to a child whose mother is "neither a citizen or national of the United States nor admitted to the United States as a lawful permanent resident."...
No government agency keeps track of anchor births; hospitals rarely keep accurate information on immigration status, public schools and other agencies are virtually forbidden from tracking immigration status, and so the public has no clue as to the real effects of current policy. Because detailed information is lacking, it is easy enough to those who favor the status quo to simply announce that the effects are completely benign.
But saying it doesn't make it so, does it?
Al Knight is a member of the Denver Post editorial board. His column appears Wednesday and Sunday.