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Freedom Fridays

November 9, 2018 – Ending Birthright Citizenship



What is the problem?

Last week, President Trump announced his desire to end birthright citizenship, the policy that provides citizenship to anyone born on U.S. soil. A firestorm has ensued over his authority to change the policy and whether the U.S. Constitution truly guarantees citizenship at birth.


Doesn’t the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee citizenship at birth?

The Fourteenth Amendment does not say that all persons born in the United States are citizens. Rather, it states, “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.”

But what does “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” mean? It is not defined in the U.S. Constitution and has never been defined by Congress. During debate of the Amendment in 1866, the Amendment’s sponsor argued it meant “not owing allegiance to anybody else.”

Do you think individuals who travel to the U.S. on a tourist visa for the sole purpose of giving birth on U.S. soil have an allegiance only to the United States?  According to April 2015 estimates, as many as 36,000 birth tourists traveled to America. What about illegal aliens who have ignored our immigration laws to enter illegally? In 2014, at least 275,000 babies were born to illegal alien parents in the United States.

As if citizenship for the child isn’t incentive enough, our immigration laws provide a fast-track to lawful permanent residence for the parents once the child turns 21 years old. For anyone who may not otherwise be eligible to immigrate to the United States, birthright citizenship is a huge incentive to exploit or violate the law.


What am I doing about it?

Section 5 of the Fourteen Amendment gives Congress the power to “enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.” 

I agree with President Trump that the policy of birthright citizenship needs to be reconsidered. Only 39 countries in the world offer birthright citizenship, excluding all of Western Europe and most developed nations.

I am a cosponsor of the Birthright Citizenship Act, H.R.140. This bill would clarify the meaning of “subject to the jurisdiction” to limit citizenship to children born to U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and immigrants serving in the military.


What are they saying?

"The Fourteenth Amendment was never intended to give automatic citizenship to children born to illegal aliens or temporary foreign visitors, as its authors make clear.  It is long past time for the United States to stop incentivizing illegal immigration and birth tourism and end this practice.” – Rosemary Jenks, Director of Government Relations, NumbersUSA

“Those who claim the 14th Amendment mandates that anyone born in the U.S. is automatically an American citizen are misinterpreting the amendment in a manner inconsistent with the intent of the amendment’s framers. Universal birthright citizenship attracts illegal immigration. By granting immediate citizenship to anyone born on U.S. soil, regardless of the legal status of the parents, we reward and encourage illegal and exploitative immigration.” – Hans Von Spakovsky, Senior Legal Fellow, Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies

“I am delighted to learn that President Trump intends to end automatic citizenship at birth for the children of illegal aliens whose parents have no ties, and owe no allegiance, to the United States. Granting ‘birthright citizenship’ is a historical mistake which attempts to erase the phrase ‘and subject to the jurisdiction thereof’ out of the 14th Amendment in defiance of what the framers of that amendment were attempting to achieve. Ending ‘birthright citizenship’ for illegal aliens will decimate the disgusting ‘birth tourism’ industry, and it will ensure that illegal aliens cannot use ‘anchor babies’ in order to take advantage of our overly generous welfare system. I commend the President for his actions, and I am very happy that my legislation will soon be adopted by the White House as national policy.” – Congressman Steve King