If you’re born in the US, you’re a US citizen. (If you’re a trivia buff, there are exceptions — for example, the rule doesn’t apply to children of foreign diplomats or to children of soldiers in an occupying army.)
I’m a benefactor of this rule — my parents had not yet completed the naturalization process when I was born in New York City all those years ago. But thanks to the Fourteenth Amendment, I was a US citizen from Day One.
Lately, there has been talk of changing the Fourteenth Amendment to get rid of birthright citizenship. Those in favor of the change paint a dark picture of pregnant women from foreign countries making their way onto American soil for the express purpose of hitting the citizenship jackpot.
Here’s why I’m against changing the law:
- Birthright citizenship has been a huge success story. It has contributed significantly to America’s spectacular growth over the past 100+ years, by greatly accelerating the assimilation of immigrants and their children into American society.
- Birthright citizenship is easy to understand and apply. If you can prove that you were born in the US, you’re a US citizen. End of story.
- The correlative of No. 2 is that doing away with birthright citizenship would be an administrative nightmare (and a bureaucrat’s paradise). Imagine the tons of paperwork and lawyers’ fees that would be generated if everyone had to prove that their parents were US citizens.
- Any change in the law would unfairly affect people of color. When’s the last time that you heard anyone questioning the citizenship of a white person?
- In fact, even under current law, there have been numerous incidents of US citizens (invariably non-white) being wrongly deported. Changing the law would vastly increase the ability of the government to mess with people’s lives.
- Are pregnant foreigners coming into the US to drop “anchor babies”? Possibly. But nowhere near as many as the anti-BC crowd would have you believe. And certainly nowhere near enough to justify a nuclear change in policy.
There’s an Asian American angle to the story. Back in the 1890′s, a San Francisco resident named Wong Kim Ark, born in the US to Chinese parents, went to visit China. When he came back to the US, the authorities wouldn’t let him into the country because, in their view, Mr. Wong was “a subject of the emperor of China,” and not a US citizen.
One of the truly great things about America is that even a cook can have his day in the highest court in the land:
The Fourteenth Amendment rocks!