Birthright Citizenship refers to the law that resulted from the fourteenth amendment to the US constitution that took place around 148 years ago. This declares all the children who are born on US soil as legal US citizens. This right is often referred as jus soli, meaning the right of soil. According to the Fourteenth amendment to US constitution and Immigration and national act “citizenship is automatically granted to the baby born within and subject to its jurisdiction of the United States.” Nowadays this amendment has been challenged by many American politicians and the public. Opinions are divided on this right granted to the babies. Opposition to this matter of citizenship is against the basic human right that has been part of ancient legal tradition due to many reasons.
Jus Soli has roots back to the time of Roman Empire and has been part of the Roman law. This law has been the basis of civil law system of the European continent. This law is implemented in its original form or new modified form in numerous countries, where citizenship is granted on the basis of birthplace but also on the base of citizenship of parents. This means that a child becomes a legal citizen automatically if one or both parents are citizens of that country. US law along with some other countries grant this right to all children who are born on the US soil, waters and aerial territory. It is also given to the immigrants who are ‘naturalized’(Lind).
This amendment has become a hot topic in US media after President Donald Trump communicated his dislike and strong concerns about this law. He claims that this law is threatening and the reason for problems of America and its citizens. He is known for his controversial personality, speeches, and remarks. A huge percentage of Americans more or less have xenophobia against the immigrants, and this population became the voters of Donald Trump’s election campaign. Donald Trump is again giving rise to xenophobia among this population and is using it as tactic and strategy to win next elections. Majority social analysts consider his desire to change this law; just a political motive to win next elections. But the truth is birthright citizenship is the law that ensures security and human right protection, but at the same time, it has put America in a complicated position regarding immigration. This law needs enhancements but not abandonment.
America is known as the land of immigrants. Today’s America has been colossally shaped by the culture, values, and lessons that immigrants brought to this land. All parts of US have been altered and improved by these citizens who belong to various roots and backgrounds, who have contributed to nation-building and its lawmaking process. America is great because of its acceptability and versatility. Immigrants come to America to become part of a great nation. Many of immigrants come to America to seek security for their future generations in terms of economy, law and culture as per jus soli; right of the soil(“OPINION”). Trumps has declared this right against American interest, as many of the citizens from different nations come here just to give birth and become citizens. Many of these immigrants are the ones who cross-border illegally (Mutz, 2018). This statement of his has many supporters who are now trying to redefine “jurisdiction.” Jurisdiction is a term that refers authority of the law. Opposition to birthright citizenship claim that immigrants who pass borders illegally or stay here after their visa expires have acted in defiance of US law and government, therefore, they are not included in birthright citizenship. And the US still has the power to act against unauthorized immigrants. And such immigrants should be deported from the US. This argument seems valid, but there is a limiting factor involved in this argument, that immigrants still pay taxes that means they still come under jurisdiction. Congress is split on the meaning of jurisdiction that has added complexity to the issue. Illegal immigrants have started the competition for jobs among the public. Illegal immigrants accept less salary and work without other benefits of insurance and bonuses. This makes many employers prefer hiring these; as it causes them less money. Also, these immigrants often are not involved in illegal business and robberies. This put nation under serious threat. Giving them citizenship seems invalid. But again, abandoning this birthright is not the solution, as it will cause problems in the future.
There is no proof for birth tourism unlike suggested by the opposition. Also ending birthright citizenship will increase the number of illegal immigrants, as children of illegal immigrants will add to the more illegal population; also, these children are not involved in this unlawful act. Complete abandonment of these children raises the question what happens if one parent is legal and other is not, then how new policy will tackle this issue. “The 14th Amendment has upheld the promise that the United States would never again become a two-tiered society, comprised of U.S. citizens on the one hand and a hereditary underclass of “illegal” persons who have broken no laws on the other” (“Birthright Citizenship Is Essential to Our Ideal of Equality before the Law”). As abandoning citizenship of American citizen will again be against rights. This act will put citizenship of many Americans in doubt as it will require many of them to prove their citizenship. This act will give birth to new two-tier society; where one class will always remain as underclass citizens. This act will give rise to crimes and influence order situation in the country (“Birthright Citizenship Is Essential to Our Ideal of Equality before the Law”).
In short birthright citizenship is the fundamental ethical right that should not be abandoned. This is a powerful weapon against racism and inequality. Using illegal immigration to justify the abandonment is profoundly incorrect, as it won’t reduce illegal immigration, crime rate neither it will influence countries economy. It requires new policies and modifications in already existing laws. Changes in immigration policy and an increase in the security of borders are the only solutions to these problems. “The U.S. can make improvements at its borders to stop additional illegal immigration”(Inserra). And politicians should not use their xenophobic mentality to influence public opinion to reach political goals. Ones who are born on American soil are American babies, and they should not be deported and kept away from their families (Anderson).
- Anderson, Dave. “Top 10 Reasons School Uniforms Should Be Mandatory.” ListLand.Com, 30 Sept. 2014, https://www.listland.com/top-10-reasons-school-uniforms-mandatory/.
- “Birthright Citizenship Is Essential to Our Ideal of Equality before the Law.” America Magazine, 6 Aug. 2018, https://www.americamagazine.org/politics-society/2018/08/06/birthright-citizenship-essential-our-ideal-equality-law.
- Lind, Dara. “Birthright Citizenship, Explained.” Vox, 23 July 2018, https://www.vox.com/2018/7/23/17595754/birthright-citizenship-trump-14th-amendment-executive-order.
- Mutz, D. (2018). Status threat, not economic hardship, explains the 2016 presidential vote. [online] pnas.org. Available at: https://www.pnas.org/content/115/19/E4330 [Accessed 13 Dec. 2018].
- “OPINION: Birthright Citizenship Is Important for the United States.” The Daily Wildcat, http://www.wildcat.arizona.edu/article/2018/11/o-birthright-citizenship. Accessed 10 Dec. 2018.