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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

DOES THE CONSTITUTION GUARANTEE BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP?

Rating: 7 votes, 5.00 average.

There is a pair of dueling and very interesting editorials in this morning's Des Moines Register debating this question. James Ho is a former US Supreme Court Clerk (that's, without a doubt, the most prestigious position any law student can land) as well as a Bush Administration official and chief counsel to Senator John Cornyn (R-TX). I met him a few years back doing some immigration advocacy work in Washington. He's also a fellow graduate of the University of Chicago Law School. He has written extensively of late on the subject of birthright citizenship and is writing in defense of the argument (his is the opinion piece on the left.



On the other side (on the right hand side of the page) is John Eastman, a dean at Chapman University School of Law in Orange County, California.



The newspaper weighs in as well. Some of the comments are pretty lively as well.



Warning: I have said in the past that the use of the term "anchor baby" is offensive and if commentators use that term, I will delete the post. Keep the comments civil.

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  1. USC's Avatar
    It is a matter of shame that countries would even consider denying citizenship to children born in their territories. This tradition of birth right citizenship has been handed down from English Common Law, as is evident from the countries which follow/followed it: UK, India, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, USA etc.

    The UK, India, New Zealand, Australia and Ireland should be throughly ashamed of themselves for giving in to the racists/xenophobs in their midst in curtailing this well established right.

    We in the US are fortunate that this Common Law tradition has been codified in the Constitution and thus the hacks (opposite of pros is hacks, amateurs, hams, right?) have an uphill battle!
  2. Al's Avatar
    USC, I don't think this is a right. It's more like a privilege. The whole idea is that your parents (if they were legal citizens) paid into social security and taxes for you, so that you can be educated and have medical care and the government to pick up the tab until you're employable. If your parents were illegal, then you're an extra burden, and other people will have to pick up the tab for you. So if they're giving you citizenship, they're extending a privilege to you. You can't claim to have the right to use these public resources for which your family didn't pay.

    This makes sense for these countries where education and health care is free. Maybe not so much for the US though.
  3. Middle Ground's Avatar
    I don't think we should use the term "anchor baby" now that I know people find it offensive.

    I also believe that the Constitution is clear in whom it grants citizenship to. That is anyone born in the country.

    Although I don't personally like it if someone comes here soley to have a child, the Constitution is still clear.

    The only way to change that is with an amendment. I don't think we should change it because if you start denying one group citizenship - I believe there could be a slippery slope in which others would also be denied.

    It's like the KKK argument. We allow the KKK to march not because we agree with them, but if we start restricting their speech at what point will the restrictions stop? If we start denying citizenship to children who have parents who are illegal immigrants, where will it stop?

    I don't think we should get in the habit of tampering with the Constitution. Every time we do (well, almost), we screw up massively (prohibition for example).
  4. 's Avatar
    "It is a matter of shame that countries would even consider denying citizenship to children born in their territories."

    It comes down to assuaging people's insecurities and sending a message to would be offenders. Many parents would be willing to sacrifice their lives for the benefit of their children, and this takes away that incentive.
  5. A2007's Avatar
    As a UK citizen I am glad about that sensible law. The UK would have otherwise been inundated with more people coming for free services (such as the health service) for which legals pay taxes for. We could not have absorbed all the people coming or wanting to come from Eastern Europe, etc. If you have no idea and have never lived there, then please reserve your comments because you have absolutely no idea!

    As for the US Constitution, the 14th Amendment was never written to be this misinterpreted for illegals having children in the U.S. If you check your history, it was written to enable children born of recently freed slaves to be citizens. To that purpose, it worked fairly. What on earth does it have to do with illegals coming into a country and not being responsible enough about birth control? To say they do not exploit this law is rubbish! Furthermore, children born of diplomats in this country are not entitled to US citizenship, and they are educated and perfectly able to support their children. Therefore we don't need an amendment of the constitution, just a mere clarification as has been done before for the case of diplomats. I hope we will see this soon.

    And don't waste your breath calling me prejudiced or anything else. My view is perfectly rational.
  6. USC's Avatar
    Al:

    "I don't think this is a right. It's more like a privilege."

    Supplied below is the relevant text of the 14th Amendment:

    >>>>>>Section. 1. 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. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
  7. USC's Avatar
    Middle Ground:

    "I also believe that the Constitution is clear in whom it grants citizenship to. That is anyone born in the country."

    I agree.

    "The only way to change that is with an amendment. I don't think we should change it because if you start denying one group citizenship - I believe there could be a slippery slope in which others would also be denied."

    Good point!
  8. USC's Avatar
    A2007:

    "And don't waste your breath calling me prejudiced or anything else. My view is perfectly rational."

    You are right, your post merit a response. It speaks for itself.
  9. USC's Avatar
    A2007:

    "And don't waste your breath calling me prejudiced or anything else. My view is perfectly rational."

    You are right, your post doesn't merit a response. It speaks for itself.
  10. Legal and waiting's Avatar
    ". The whole idea is that your parents (if they were legal citizens) paid into social security and taxes for you, so that you can be educated and have medical care and the government to pick up the tab until you're employable. "

    Well, first, at the time the Constitution was written, there was no Social Security, so it could not have possibly been 'the whole idea'. Second, you apparently have no idea how the Social Security works. It is not the parents who pay for the children, it is the children who pay for the parents, as those who curently work pay for those who currently retired.
  11. TX's Avatar
    "My view is perfectly rational."

    And man never landed on the moon.

  12. Another voice's Avatar
    I guess the money paid in SS by Illegals now arround $100 billion just magically apeared there and it keeps growing. Natural born citizens of the US should not have their birth right contested. This whole notion of people just having children here for the government benefits has being disputed plenty of times and the evidence show that social services are used by immigrants to certain extent(education and Healthcare) there is a surplus from their contributions and what they used in services. If that is the basis for contesting the natural right of these people is sadly mistaken.
  13. grouchy's Avatar
    In the scenarios of granting citizenship to anyone born in the US soil, base on the 14th ammendment, it is NOT in the text contained in the ammendment that shows a problem bec it states very clearly that US born kids of foreign diplomats, temporary visitors and illegal aliens that are not subject to jurisdiction have no right to birthright citizenship. I think there's a great series of loopholes appeared on the part of those government agencies granting birthright citizenship. The law is very simple to understand that this 14th ammendment in particular is designed only for those who are born in the US by US citizen parents and legal permanent residents. Bear in mind that anyone in the senate, when design a law they pretty much assure that that kind of law that they are making will directly give benefit to its citizenry. So i think the senator who created this law is not foolish/idiot to creat such a law that benefit people who break the law of the US land. There's no need to ammend the law. Let's just put the burden on the justice system for us to know and what they will say... to give their unified interpretation on this "14th ammendment" so that everybody has a clear and precise ideas on this issue.
  14. grouchy's Avatar
    Guys, you cannot dispute on how much the illegal aliens are directly contributing to the US government's economy, even they're contributing that largescale (billions or trillions of dollars), not the figures that will tell anyway. Bonafide residents, one of their obligations is to contribute shares to the government so that its body will continue to do its role and to give its obligation to the communities. Illegally present here doesn't have any direct obligation to the governmnet since they don't have legal records in the system in the first place. So it's really up to them whether they will pay taxes or not, they have their choice, unlike legal aliens they don't. How sure are you then that they're paying taxes? sometimes, some of them maybe but most of the time, not at all. And frankly to say, the government didn't tell them to come here anyway.
  15. Legal and waiting's Avatar
    grouchy, what are you talking about? Non-immigrants, visitors and illegally present ARE subject to US laws, are subject to paying US taxes, and do have records with the government. Anyone with a valid ID (foreign passport included) can get a Tax ID. Everyone pays sales taxes - have you ever heard of an illegal suing for sales taxes? Nope. Everyone who resides in a territory pays property taxes, whether directly or indirectly through landlord (no, you do not need to be a long term resident to own, Saudi sheikhs have their mansions in the US, and they pay taxes despite their 'visitor' status). The laws for diplomats are actually different in many ways - for example, they may not be arrested for crimes!

    Please, learn your stuff before posting.
  16. Another voice's Avatar
    "How sure are you then that they're paying taxes? sometimes, some of them maybe but most of the time, not at all. And frankly to say, the government didn't tell them to come here anyway."

    Again, the SS fund has $100 billion in unclaimed funds pressumed to come from fake ss numbers and it grows by $7 billion annually. Sales taxes and property taxes are paid by immigrants as they purchase things and do have cars, homes etc... Payroll taxes are deducted from their paychecks as most of the work for living and some of them with the Illusion of CIR payed all their income taxes with Tax Id numbers as it was a requirement for the to pay back taxes. Sort of like back to the British colony era Taxation without representation.
  17. grouchy's Avatar
    Legal and waiting - if you surely say so that the illegal aliens here even those who sneaked thru the border are subject to/ or paying taxes, how come that the state of their jurisdiction cannot tell their true identities/ status? How come that to this day, the government has this kind of tremendous problems in identifying / uncovering their true colors in the society? Maybe you know what i mean. As far as i know if you are in the US with documents i'm sure the government does't have any problems in telling who you are?
    I know, too that the non-immigrants,and with visa visitors who get here for business purposes in the US are subject to pay taxes bec they entered here legally. What im talking about is that those who got here without legal papers. I'm still wondering how they pay taxes.Thru TIN? Common, we all know that you have no right to work if you posses TIN #...its use only for identification purposes,and nothing else. Does it make sense?
  18. JoeF's Avatar
    "The whole idea is that your parents (if they were legal citizens) paid into social security and taxes for you"

    There was no social security system when the 14th Amendment was written.

    "As for the US Constitution, the 14th Amendment was never written to be this misinterpreted for illegals having children in the U.S. If you check your history, it was written to enable children born of recently freed slaves to be citizens."

    It it had been written for what you falsely claim it was written for, then it would have said that. It doesn't say that it was for children of freed slaves only, hence it is for everybody. It is patronizing to think that the writers of the 14th Amendment were not able to formulate it the way they wanted it.

  19. JoeF's Avatar
    "In the scenarios of granting citizenship to anyone born in the US soil, base on the 14th ammendment, it is NOT in the text contained in the ammendment that shows a problem bec it states very clearly that US born kids of foreign diplomats, temporary visitors and illegal aliens that are not subject to jurisdiction have no right to birthright citizenship."

    Huh? Temporary visitors and illegals are of course subject to US jurisdiction. The very definition of being illegal is a US law, so if illegals were not subject to US jurisdiction, they were not even illegal...

  20. JoeF's Avatar
    "What im talking about is that those who got here without legal papers. I'm still wondering how they pay taxes."

    Example 1: sales taxes. Everybody pays them.
    Example 2: working with an SSN that is not theirs. That of course results in taxes being paid.
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