Amending the Constitution to Defend Citizenship

Politicians across the political spectrum want to amend the Constitution. Donald Trump wants an amendment to clarify the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment. Hillary Clinton wants an amendment to override the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC. On August 28, Breitbart ran an interesting article by John Nolte headlined “Why the Media Supports Hillary’s Constitutional Rewrite and Hates Trump’s”:

The media wants Citizens United strangled because they want to go back to the days where they enjoyed a monopoly on political speech. The media wants to go back to being the only for-profit corporations allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money to affect the outcomes of elections.

Let’s face it: The New York Times, The Washington Post, NBC, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, CNN, NPR, etc., are all left-wing super PACs disguised as news outlets.

Trump wants to change an outdated Amendment that is being abused by illegals to undermine our entire country.

Hillary wants to restrict political speech.

Those calling for amending the Constitution should take into consideration the fact that the last amendment, the 27th, was passed by Congress in 1789 but not ratified by the States until 1992. Consider: in 1992 it had taken 203 years, the entire history of our nation from our first elected government, to ratify an amendment that no one with half a brain would find the least bit controversial, but the 26th Amendment, the amendment that took the least time for ratification, all of 99 days, was a mistake.

Over the last 102 years, exactly nine amendments have been passed by Congress and ratified by the States. And the first of these, the 18th, was repealed by the 21st, so there’s really been only seven. Over the last 51 years, only two amendments have been passed by Congress and ratified. And the last of these two, the 26th, was ratified more than 44 years ago.

Amendment is a rare and huge undertaking, so idle noise about amending away something like the Citizens United decision is just campaign blather. In today’s America of “administrative law,” federal bureaucrats create more “laws” on a slow day than the federal and state legislatures have in our entire history through the amendment process. In deeply divided America, amendment should be reserved for changes that have broad agreement.

One amendment that might have broad agreement is Donald Trump’s idea to clarify the so-called “birthright citizenship” in the 14th Amendment’s Citizenship Clause.

Under the current interpretation of that clause, any woman, regardless of her nationality, who gives birth on U.S. soil, will have brought forth a U.S. citizen. In fact, there’s an entire industry, “birth tourism,” devoted to timing the childbirth of foreigners so that it coincides with being in the U.S. American citizenship is also given to the newborns of women who are not here on tourist visas, but who are here illegally.

Granting citizenship to children born to foreigners who happen to be in America at the time of their birth is one of the main magnets of “illegal immigration.” It’s an incentive to breaking our laws; just walk across the border and head to the nearest hospital and voilà: you have your anchor baby with U.S. citizenship and can now go on public assistance and bring in the rest of your family. What chumps we Americans are to let our government do this to us!

If you’re concerned about “illegal immigration” (invasion, actually), then you must get serious about destroying the magnets, the incentives, to coming to America illegally. “Birthright citizenship” is one of those magnets. Some think that a simple statute would be enough to fix this problem, or that a president might unilaterally change it. But what is really needed is an amendment, as that would override case law and any debates that legislatures had when passing the 14th Amendment. An amendment would also protect the change from any future statute and executive action.

Regarding citizenship, American law should be like Jewish law: matrilineal. That is, you’re not born a Jew unless your mother’s a Jew. Likewise, the amendment to clarify the 14th should confer automatic citizenship only on children born to women who are U.S. citizens. The citizenship of the father should be of no consideration. (To confer citizenship on children born to foreign women who have been inseminated by American men would be messy, necessitating DNA tests and lawsuits. Such a provision might spawn a whole new industry similar to “birth tourism.” Forget it.)

Conferring citizenship automatically on the children of foreign nationals just because they’re here during childbirth is not an unalloyed blessing, it has its issues. One issue is America’s citizenship-based taxation, (a system used by only one other nation: Eritrea). It’s conceivable that the IRS could go after the income of someone who may have spent but one day in America, just long enough to be born. (Recently, Americans have been renouncing their citizenship just to free themselves from our godawful tax system.)

Another issue is dual citizenship. (An editorial in the Los Angeles Times headlined “The problem of dual citizenship” is worth reading.) Many nations provide for dual citizenship, but it’s a bad idea. Perhaps some nation will confer citizenship on anyone who sets foot on their soil, and then claim a right to tax their incomes. When foreigners give birth in the U.S., their children are often born with dual citizenship, or a second nationality. But a newborn’s citizenship and nationality should be singular and the same as its mother’s.

The subtitle of Ann Coulter’s latest book, ¡Adios, America! (2015), is “The Left’s Plan to Turn Our Country into a Third World Hellhole.” (Here’s an excellent review by Jay Nordlinger.) On page 37 in the section “Abraham Lincoln Freed the Mexicans,” Coulter writes:

…the Fourteenth Amendment was part of the Reconstruction amendments after the Civil War… The soul and exclusive purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment was to stop Democrats from nullifying the entire Civil War by continuing to deny citizenship rights to newly freed slaves.

But Democrats like the current dispensation, because they assume the influx of foreigners will be Democrats. Democrats want a permanent underclass, which would be their political base. So in the debate on whether to pass and ratify an amendment to shore up citizenship, it would be interesting to hear how Democrats defend the status quo. Let them go on record opposing Mr. Trump’s amendment; let them run for reelection on that opposition.

The Democrats’ interpretation of the Citizenship Clause is an utter negation of America’s self-determination; it allows U.S. citizenship to be determined by the whims of foreigners and lawbreakers. Defending his ideas on these matters to NBC’s Chuck Todd, candidate Trump summed it up succinctly: “Chuck, we either have a country, or we don’t have a country.”

Jon N. Hall is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City. 

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