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American ‘Birthright’ Citizenship Re-examined

Posted August 24th, 2015 at 1:55 pm (UTC-4)
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Sorry, Donald Trump: America Needs Birthright Citizenship

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry – This Week

It’s not news that there are a significant number of Americans who are anxious about immigration — illegal and otherwise — and that they exert considerable political clout (though ultimately less than is sometimes breathlessly suggested). And many of those people fret about so-called “anchor babies.” The problem with “anchor babies” is that they’re a myth. (Trust me. As a Frenchman with a fertile wife who often wanted to emigrate to the U.S., I did the research.)….

Birthright citizenship says, quite explicitly, “The American project is so strong, our culture is so strong, our values are so strong, that any baby born on our soil, no matter where his parents come from, will ultimately grow up to be a well-adjusted American, so that we don’t need to wait for him to prove himself to extend citizenship.”


Miguel, 3, plays with his father, Miguel, an illegal immigrant on Aug. 27, 2010, in San Juan, Texas. (AP)

Miguel, 3, plays with his father, Miguel, an illegal immigrant on Aug. 27, 2010, in San Juan, Texas. (AP)

The GOP’s Birthright Citizenship Flip Flop

Tom Donnelly – Politico

This didn’t used to be such a difficult issue for Republicans. After all, it was the GOP that wrote birthright citizenship into America’s constitution. The leaders of the 1866 Republican Party—the Party of Lincoln—were staunch supporters of the idea. Indeed, birthright citizenship was central to the Republican vision for post-Civil War America, and a key dividing line between the supporters of President Andrew Johnson and those of the Republican leadership in Congress….

Citizenship was acquired by soil rather than bloodline—subject to a few well-established exceptions…

This Southern “tradition”—fueled by white supremacy—was reinforced by the opinions of certain pro-slavery Attorneys General and ultimately codified in the Supreme Court’s infamous Dred Scott decision, authored by Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney, himself a former pro-slavery Attorney General under President Andrew Jackson. In Dred Scott, Taney concluded that African Americans could not be U.S. citizens even if they were born free on American soil.

During Reconstruction, one of the Republican Party’s central goals was to overturn Dred Scott and guarantee equal citizenship for everyone born on American soil.

The Statue of Liberty appears below lower Manhattan skyline in New York, July 3, 1971. (AP)
The Statue of Liberty appears below lower Manhattan skyline in New York, July 3, 1971. (AP)

Should ‘Birthright Citizenship’ Be Abolished?

The Debate by The New York Times

…Ultimately, can such an approach honestly be a legitimate option for the U.S.? Who among us gets deported? How long do our families have had to be here? It’s clear who would immediately become subject to profiling. Do we want a country in which all Latinos and Latinas immediately become suspect? Not me. And as proud U.S. citizen of Puerto Rican descent, I know I am not alone.  Ediberto Roman

The question of whether birthright citizenship should be abolished is based on the faulty premise that our Constitution actually mandates it. In fact, the text of the 14th Amendment’s citizenship clause reads: “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 text has two requirements for citizenship — that an individual is born on U.S. soil; and that an individual is subject to the jurisdiction of the United States when born.  John Eastman




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