Liberal and Establishment Arguments for Birthright Citizenship Fail

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Article date: 
20 August 2015
Article category: 
Our American Future
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Most arguments for birthright citizenship pushed by the political left and many establishment Republicans are baseless. For those who do try to make a legal argument, the strongest one is based upon two Supreme Court precedents, which were wrongly decided and should be overruled. But even those cases don’t save the myth that the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees citizenship to the children of illegal aliens.

reitbart News recently explained that while several parts of Donald Trump’s immigration plan are likely unconstitutional, ending birthright citizenship for the children of illegal aliens is perfectly legal, so long as the law would only apply to future children and not to those already born. Trump, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, and other Republican candidates calling for ending birthright citizenship are on solid legal ground.

As explained in our previous report, these plans do not require “repealing the Fourteenth Amendment,” contrary to what media commentators breathlessly exclaim. (It should also be noted that many of them are not even lawyers, and most of the few who are lawyers have no expertise in constitutional law). Instead, those plans would only require amending the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA), a federal law which Congress can change at any time.

That report also explained that there have always been classes of children born on American soil that never receive citizenship. It all comes down to the Fourteenth Amendment’s words that children born here are citizens as long as they are “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States.

The media is trying to defend what they’ve been saying, however, by looking at two Supreme Court cases. The first is the 1898 case United States v. Wong Kim Ark, where the Court held that for a Chinese-born couple who had legally immigrated permanently to the United States, their American-born son was made a citizen at birth by the Fourteenth Amendment. The second is the 1982 case Plyler v. Doe, where the notoriously liberal Justice William Brennan— writing for the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision—slipped in an obscure footnote on one page that legal immigrants cannot be treated differently from illegal aliens...

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