The 14th Amendment and the Constitution
Is anyone born on American soil a citizen, even if his mother entered the country illegally for the specific purpose of giving birth there?
There are sufficient voices, including some nominally conservative, answering in the affirmative. They cite the Supreme Court's decision in U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark (1898), finding that the children of Chinese laborers (legal immigrants, it must be pointed out), barred from citizenship by the infamous Chinese Exclusion Act, were indeed citizens if born in America.
As to the phrase in the amendment requiring that the person born in the United States be "subject to the jurisdiction thereof," our birthright absolutists say of course the newborns and their mothers are subject to that jurisdiction. They are answerable to the law, aren't they? That is why the mother's status is called "illegal." The fact that illegal aliens, like fugitives, are as such evading the jurisdiction of the United States apparently should not prevent them from being advantaged by it.
There is also the issue of legislative intent: the amendment was intended to guarantee the citizenship of freed slaves, not the children of aliens. There were no restrictions on immigration in 1868. But birthright absolutists find evidence in the congressional debate on the Fourteenth Amendment that the children of immigrants (again, legal ones) were contemplated.
It is a common reverence for the Constitution and for the philosophy of natural right embodied in the Declaration of Independence that has held the American people together from the founding forward and made them one. It is the enduring viability of these founding documents that has made this nation so coveted a destination for millions around the world.
May we expect our people to adore their Constitution today and going forward as much as ever? Is the tendency of our recent jurisprudence to enhance the fealty of ordinary American citizens to that supreme law? Certainly, there are good and bad court decisions. But concerning the Constitution of the United States, many of our most sophisticated interpreters have but one message for the American people: it is their enemy. The Constitution is what prevents them from praying in school, or at a high school football game. It also forbids their observing a moment of silence at the football game, or from hearing a benediction at a middle school graduation.
The same Constitution protects publicly burning the American flag, panhandling on the public streets, simulated child pornography, sodomy, so-called marriage between men, and abortion. It proscribes, with a few qualifications, the public funding of educational institutions with religious associations, but, according to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, it requires the showing at public expense of "artwork" portraying the Virgin Mary in elephant dung.
And are Americans also compelled by the Supreme Law of the Land to grant citizenship to the children of illegal aliens, born on our soil? Does the Fourteenth Amendment require that we crown with success the racket by which women sneak into the country to have babies in American hospitals, so that the baby can be called American and stay here with the illegal alien mother, followed in due course by others?
Tranquility, safety, and prosperity do not follow from uncontrolled immigration and demographic change. There is little chance of union with people whose very arrival in the country entails defiance of the law. Justice is not associated with some seizing advantages unlawfully, while others dutifully await the slow processes of law. And to sanctify a scam such as the abuse of birthright citizenship by illegal aliens is to deprive the people of a most essential liberty, that of making, through their elected representatives, their own laws. Unenforced laws are a mockery.
The veneration of the Constitution and the fulfillment of its purposes are as much in the interest of lawful immigrants as of anyone else. For to repeat, it is precisely the rule of law, beginning with the Supreme Law, that makes life in this country something to be prized and sought by peoples everywhere. What but the Constitution engenders confidence that human endeavor will be attended by justice? Will such confidence remain once the founding document itself is seen to undergird injustice?