Birthright Citizenship and the 14th Amendment: Argumentative Essay

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Five million children are living in the U.S. today. Children of every race, every ethnicity, every religion, every kind of identification. But of the five million children in the U.S., only about 4.1 million have U.S. citizenship at birth. 100,000 holding a green card, while the remaining 900,000 are themselves unauthorized. But they all are brought into the world the same. They go to the same schools, side by side, learning the same curriculum. They all have the same rights, no matter where their parents were born or where they lived. This is because of the 14th Amendment: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the State wherein they reside” (Navarrette, par.3). It was ratified in 1868 to grant citizenship to former slaves who had been freed after the Civil War. However, currently, under President Trump’s term, there has been a lot of controversy on whether this amendment should be changed to deny automatic citizenship to the children of illegal aliens. The wording of the amendment could be interpreted in various ways and some Republican critics say that “it’s an irresistible lure to illegal immigrants and needs to be revised” (Khan, par.2). This is because of the rising number of illegal aliens in the United States, especially since these illegal immigrants are settling down in the U.S. and starting families. But the amendment shouldn’t be changed, nor should there be another law passed to allow it, because it is a part of our Constitution which acts as the supreme law of the land. As well as, it is unethical to deny basic human rights to all, especially those born on American soil. Doing so would be a step in the wrong direction of America being accepting and open-minded and welcoming as has been, hence being called the ‘land of the free’.

The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution of the United States is a clause that declares the Constitution, laws, and treaties of the federal government to be the supreme law of the land, to which judges in every state are bound regardless of state law. It allows the amendments to stand, and it gives them meaning to be upheld in a civilization. It is the way our society has succeeded and run for hundreds of years and should not be changed because of the opinion of several Republicans on the number of illegal aliens in the country. Those who normally preach the virtues of adhering to a strict interpretation of the Constitution are now saying it doesn’t apply in the matters of the 14th Amendment. The amendment is under the Supremacy Clause, proving to be above all personal interpretations and is the core of our system.

Additionally, if we alter the Constitution at this moment, no idea what it could ultimately lead to the analysis of every other amendment and protests to change all of them, potential riots, and causing a drastic change in our society as a whole. “Although I recognize that illegal immigration is a serious problem that has to be dealt with... the problem is that we don't want to get in the habit of changing the Constitution. That could lead to some unfortunate results” (Swanson, par.9).

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It is often said that the United States is one of the few developed nations in the world that affords citizenship rights to anyone born on its soil. It's one reason why the United States stays a remarkable country, one of the most beneficial nations, the one outstanding superpower, and motivation around the world. People come over from very poor countries or as refugees to live a better life in the United States, become proud to be American, and give their kids better lives than what they had: equal opportunities for education, work, and safety. Some people in Texas came forward to the local newspaper to speak about coming from Mexico to the United States. Isela, a mother of four, said that it was the prospect of a better life — not her children’s potential citizenship status — that was the driving force in leaving Mexico to start a family in Mission. However, her life would be much harder if her children were not born U.S. citizens. It would include struggling to find proper healthcare, a limited job market, and constant fear of deportation. But these issues are preferred over the miserable lives, lived with sometimes no food, shelter, or safety (Wiley, par.4). President Trump has vowed to end this birthright citizenship for children of illegal aliens, which critics believe to be unconstitutional. Why should these children of immigrants, who are human beings just like everyone else, be denied rights because of where their parents were born? They were born on American soil and are thereby American. “In this country, we don't visit the sins of the parent onto the child. And it's unseemly for the GOP to be seen as attacking children whose only 'sin' is having the temerity to be born on U.S. soil” (Navarrette, par.10).

With that, currently, under President Trump’s administration, some government officials in the office are trying to go against this and amend the Constitution. They believe that only those who are not subject to some foreign power or are not owing allegiance to anybody else should be granted birthright citizenship. If this was upheld, one of the former U.S. former presidents, Barack Obama, would not be a U.S. citizen. His father is from Kenya, and Kenya automatically confers citizenship to all children born to Kenyan parents. This goes to show the unjust claims and beliefs over this topic. However, the Supreme Court case United States v. Wong Kim Ark in 1898 went against the belief that the Trump administration and many Republicans hold. When Wong went to visit China to see his parents, he was not allowed back into the country upon entry. Even though he was born in San Francisco, they claimed he was not a citizen. The conclusion of the case expanded on the amendment and specified that children of legal, permanent residents were automatically citizens. “A person is subject to the jurisdiction of the United States when they are subject to the laws of the United States. Nothing more. Nothing less” (Truax, par.7). The argument to amend the 14th Amendment today is supplied by purely political reasons by conservative Republicans pandering to anti-immigrant sentiment and does not have any true reasoning behind it. Even if legal action was taken to revise the amendment, their reasoning would not be upheld in court, because it is immoral to deny children of illegal immigrants, citizenship, even though they were born here. “The president cannot amend the Constitution, and an executive order trying to end or restrict the right to citizenship of persons born in the United States would almost certainly be challenged in court as a violation of the 14th Amendment” (Lyons, par.5).

Overall, no, the 14th Amendment should not be altered, nor should there be another one passed to deny automatic citizenship to the children of illegal aliens. The Constitution is the law of the land and is irrefutable. All children born on American soil deserve the same rights as each other, no matter where their parents came from. Also, changing one amendment could lead to uproar into changing many more, leading to drastic effects. What is hopeful for the future is if our government kept the amendments and Constitution the way it is today, but provided an official clarification that kids of illegal aliens should not be blamed for their parents’ sins, and all humans should be given the same opportunities, does not matter where they originated from, as long as they are born on American soil. In the past, it has been up to Congress how to interpret the amendment in certain cases. If the court clarified the amendment, allowing all persons born on American soil to be declared American citizens, there would be less controversy over this topic. The immigration system would be handled with prejudice at bay, upholding the idea of America being the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave’.

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Birthright Citizenship and the 14th Amendment: Argumentative Essay. (2023, October 26). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 20, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/birthright-citizenship-and-the-14th-amendment-argumentative-essay/
“Birthright Citizenship and the 14th Amendment: Argumentative Essay.” Edubirdie, 26 Oct. 2023, edubirdie.com/examples/birthright-citizenship-and-the-14th-amendment-argumentative-essay/
Birthright Citizenship and the 14th Amendment: Argumentative Essay. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/birthright-citizenship-and-the-14th-amendment-argumentative-essay/> [Accessed 20 Apr. 2024].
Birthright Citizenship and the 14th Amendment: Argumentative Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Oct 26 [cited 2024 Apr 20]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/birthright-citizenship-and-the-14th-amendment-argumentative-essay/
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