Republican lawmakers in Arizona have introduced legislation on a state level to end what they refer to as birthright citizenship.
CNN reported that in addition to Arizona, legislators in 40 states are considering similar laws.
They want to bring this issue before the Supreme Court forcing federal authorities to re-examine what the 14th Amendment’s citizenship clause was intended to mean so the issue can once again take national stage.
But the immigration problem isn’t going to be solved by changing our Constitution. It will only be solved through collaborative efforts, by both sides of the Congressional political aisle, to draft and pass new immigration laws.
Many conservative lawmakers do not believe the intent of the 14th Amendment was to grant everyone born on U.S. soil citizenship, but rather the intent was to grant it only to those who were born to parents legally in the U.S. in the first place.
This is a bizarre position because in 1868, when the 14th Amendment was ratified, there weren’t any immigration laws in place in the U.S., so people could come andgo as they pleased and Congress was aware.
To be sure, the 14th Amendment came about primarily to combat the rampant racism that continued to plague the U.S. since the end of slavery.
It was meant to give African Americans legal standing in court and to remove state’s rights to determine citizenship.
However, if the 14th Amendment was only intended to benefit African Americans then one would assume those words would be there, but they are not.
Clearly, there were other immigrants in this country at the time.
And not only is birthright citizenship plainly spelled out in the 14th Amendment, but so is protection for any person in this country to be covered by our laws and not just U.S. citizens.
Some people would like to claim the “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” part of the amendment was meant to mean only citizens or legal residents. However, if anti-immigration politicians feel undocumented immigrants are not subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. then undocumented immigrants aren’t really here illegally at all because they aren’t subject to our laws.
There is no question that coming to this country illegally is wrong, but the majority of those who come here do so to have a better life.
They believe in the American dream. Their intention is not to take advantage of American taxpayers contrary to what many conservative politicians would like you to believe.
These lawmakers are using fear tactics to rouse support for altering the 14th Amendment. A good example of this is the absurd promotion of “anchor babies” that has been tossed around recently.
Women are not risking their lives to come here illegally while pregnant so their babies will have the opportunity to become legal 18 years later.
Additionally, the suggestion that having a baby in the U.S. can keep someone from being deported is out of date.
It may have been true at one time, but it no longer is the case.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement does not care if your baby is a legal citizen. They will still deport an undocumented parent and if the baby goes with them or not is up to the parent.
The other argument for reinterpreting the 14th Amendment is that anchor babies and their parents have no allegiance to the U.S.
This lacks logic because if these undocumented immigrants are crossing the border, raising kids and building lives here, where is the allegiance to their native country when they don’t even want to live there?
Proponents of reinterpretation are also ignoring years of legal precedent.
For example, in 1898, the Supreme Court ruled in U.S. vs. Wong Kim Ark that despite Ark’s parents being Chinese-born and not citizens of the U.S., Ark was a citizen because he was born here and the 14th Amendment applies to all those born in the U.S.
It did not matter to what country Ark’s parent’s pledged their allegiance, what mattered was upholding the 14th Amendment.
It would be un-American to allow a group of close-minded individuals to alter the meaning of one of our greatest Constitutional amendments.