Becoming an American is a bit like becoming a vampire; new vampires are created by old vampires. As with vampires, American citizenship requires an infusion of blood, but not from a bite – from an umbilical cord. There are exceptions to this rule, however. There’s naturalization, which is a long, involved process. There’s honorary citizenship, which requires an act of Congress and has been awarded only eight times. And then there’s the easy method: being born to someone who has no right to be here in America.
Like the children of illegal aliens under the current interpretation of the law, I, too, have “birthright citizenship.” But unlike the children of illegal aliens, I wasn’t required to be born on U.S. soil to acquire my birthright citizenship; I could have been born anywhere, and I would have been an American. Senator Cruz was born in Canada, but few would question his citizenship because his mother was American. Indeed, Cruz is running for president, which requires that one be “natural born,” i.e. native-born. I’m an American because an American gave birth to me. In fact, I come from a long line of Americans going back to at least the 18th century. So my birthright citizenship was, as it were, “grandfathered in.”
The term “birthright citizenship” is being used by the media to refer only to the children of illegals. But as noted above, all “regular” Americans have birthright citizenship. So the term is being mangled, making the New York Times headline “Should ‘Birthright Citizenship’ Be Abolished?” rather daft. (I don’t want my birthright citizenship abolished; do you yours?)
America’s pundits and even some of her legal experts are weighing in on the birthright citizenship being granted to children born on U.S. soil to illegal aliens. The justification for this practice is supposedly the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment. The defenders of the current interpretation of the Citizenship Clause speak of it as if the issue were settled, set in stone. The issue was settled, but not in the way they think.
On August 23, Breitbart ran “Media Ignores Constitutional Experts Debunking Birthright Citizenship” by Ken Klukowski:
Myths about birthright citizenship -- promoted by liberals, embraced by establishment Republicans, and repeated by mainstream media pundits without critical examination -- have been debunked by experts spanning the political spectrum. But none of those people are being given A-list treatment by major media outlets to respond.
Klukowski’s article lists several links to worthy articles and papers by his experts. Recently he appeared on the Laura Ingraham radio show to discuss this hot issue (listen here for free).
On August 24, National Review ran John C. Eastman’s “We Can Apply the 14th Amendment While Also Reforming Birthright Citizenship,” which is quite persuasive. Eastman drills down into case law precedents. Pay special attention to his dilations on the Slaughterhouse cases (1873), Elk v. Wilkins (1884), and Wong Kim Ark (1898). He is scrupulous about dicta and what constitutes actual holdings of the Court. Eastman claims that the Supreme Court “has never held that the children born on U.S. soil to parents who are in this country illegally are citizens.” His conclusion:
So, truth be told, the 14th Amendment does not need to be repealed in order to fix the problem of birthright citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants. It just needs to be understood and applied correctly.
On August 25, two articles appeared at The Federalist, one by an attorney and one by an historian, and they come to different conclusions. In attorney James Ho’s “Defining ‘American’: Birthright Citizenship And The Original Understanding Of The 14th Amendment,” you’ll find a lawyerly treatment of the history of the amendment, the congressional debate before the vote, and case law since ratification. It’s fairly long and there are 50 endnotes. Unlike Eastman, Ho contends that “a constitutional amendment is the only way to expand eligibility for the Presidency, and it is likewise the only way to restrict birthright citizenship.”
Ho’s article is sullied by the inclusion in three places – in the blurb right after the title, in a sidebar in large red print, and in the last sentence of the article – of this: “Stay tuned: Dred Scott II could be coming soon to a federal court near you.” To compare not giving citizenship to babies who shouldn’t be in the U.S. to the most monstrous decision in Supreme Court history is dishonest and shameful. (You’re better than that, Mr. Ho and editors.)
“The 14th Amendment: Birthright For Whom?” by Richard Samuelson was the other August 25 article at The Federalist, and in my opinion it’s the livelier of the two. (Perhaps that’s because Mr. Samuelson isn’t a lawyer.)
On August 27, American Thinker ran “Anchors Away” by Jan LaRue, legal analyst for the American Civil Rights Union. It’s a zesty article that begins with a campaign button: “Bin Laden 2016.” The question LaRue entertains is whether the children of illegal aliens, having been endowed with birthright citizenship, can run for president. (On August 22, I, too, brought up the possibility of bin Laden’s children being granted birthright citizenship in a short blog: “Not your father’s 14th Amendment.” I wish I had thought of LaRue’s angle; the irony is delicious. But I did provide some fine links.)
If John Eastman is correct that an amendment isn’t needed to end the practice of awarding citizenship to the children of illegals, then a future president, providing he has a pen and a phone, could, through executive action, order the government to stop granting such citizenship. But a better path might be for Congress to pass a law to do it. Just as with Obamacare, they might need to use reconciliation to get it through.
The federal government has failed us. The feds have failed to keep foreign invaders out of our communities, and now they expect we the citizenry to mildly accept their failure and to pay for public assistance for the invaders. It’s amazing what Democrats expect us to put up with. But they have a huge chunk of America afraid to think for themselves for fear of being called “racist” or “nativist.”
Like Esau, Democrats are selling your birthright for “a mess of pottage.” They are attempting to create a “new and improved” electorate, one that will vote Democrat. Not only do they insist on birthright citizenship for the offspring of illegal aliens, but they even want felons to be able to vote. And with the 26th Amendment, they gave the vote to children. It took three months and eight days to ratify that amendment, making the 26th the quickest ever to get through ratification. Why was it so urgent to give the vote to kids? Ramming through the 26th Amendment gave us the children’s vote, which gave us Obama.
The current interpretation of the Citizenship Clause is doing nothing less than eroding the very idea of citizenship, and of national sovereignty. Did the drafters of the 14th Amendment and the States that ratified it envision the invasion of America by tens of millions of foreigners? And if so, did they think that the language they were approving would grant citizenship to the children of those invaders?
Being an American is like belonging to a country club. Not just anyone can saunter in and have a drink at the bar; you’ve got to be a member. Hey, get outta here. You can’t just walk in, whaddaya think this is, California?
Jon N. Hall is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City.