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Birthright Citizenship and Anchor Babies

December 22, 2012
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The United States is the only country in the world to still grant automatic citizenship to children born of illegal alien parents.  These children, via their birthright citizenship, act as anchor babies and can, upon reaching the age of majority, facilitate bringing their extended family into the US in order to obtain citizenship. 

According to a December 14, 2012 Rasmussen poll, 51% of likely voters do not think that a child in that situation should be granted citizenship.

The original intent of the Fourteenth (14th) Amendment to the US Constitution is currently being misinterpreted to give citizenship to children born in the United States of illegal alien parents. Although some experts believe that a Constitutional amendment would be necessary to remedy the misinterpretation, many believe that Congressional action would be sufficient and is urgently warranted.

The 14th Amendment was ratified after the Civil War 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. 

In 1866, Senator Jacob Howard clearly spelled out the intent of the 14th Amendment by stating:

"Every person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States. This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons. It settles the great question of citizenship and removes all doubt as to what persons are or are not citizens of the United States. This has long been a great desideratum in the jurisprudence and legislation of this country."

This understanding was reaffirmed by Senator Edward Cowan, who stated:

"[A foreigner in the United States] has a right to the protection of the laws; but he is not a citizen in the ordinary acceptance of the word..."

The consequences of allowing anchor babies to become United States citizens are that a tremendous fiscal burden is imposed on law-abiding tax payers, and that US population will continue to grow as a result of illegal immigration.

By not addressing this abuse of the Fourteenth Amendment and not enforcing immigration law, the funds that state and local governments must provide to anchor babies amount to a virtual tax on U.S. citizens to subsidize illegal aliens.

By deliberately not addressing this loophole, Congress in effect rewards law-breakers and punishes those who have chosen to follow the rules and immigrate legally.

The 14th Amendment stipulates that Congress has the power to enforce its provisions by enactment of legislation, and the power to enforce a law is necessarily accompanied by the authority to interpret that law. Therefore, an act of Congress stating its interpretation of the 14th Amendment, as not to include the offspring of illegal aliens, would fall within Congress's prerogative.

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.

For more information, see CAIRCO's information birthright citizenship. Also see the 14th Amendment website.