July 27, 2018

Latest assault on Constitutional birthright citizenship is clever propaganda but rotten history

Linda Chavez, Director for Becoming American Initiative, published this op-ed in The Hill.

With President Trump’s unprecedented rhetorical and policy assault on immigrants, opponents of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which grants birthright citizenship, have come out of their caves, seeing this as their best opportunity to repeal this longstanding right.

Witness the recent Washington Post op-ed by Michael Anton, former Trump administration official and current Hillsdale college lecturer. He writes, “The notion that simply being born within the geographical limits of the United States automatically confers U.S. citizenship is an absurdity…”

His op-ed is part of a coordinated effort to narrow the definition of U.S. citizenship and deny the birthright of millions of Americans, including not only the estimated 4.5 million children born to at least one parent who resides illegally in the country but also to millions more whose parents reside here legally as permanent legal residents, students, and temporary visa holders.

This effort, spearheaded recently by scholars at the Claremont Institute—including Edward Erler, whom Anton references— depends on a tortured reading of the Amendment and the Congressional debate that led to its enactment. Anton hangs his argument, as do others, on the Amendment’s phrase “under the jurisdiction thereof” — claiming that illegal immigrants are not under U.S. jurisdiction. As I have argued at length, this interpretation depends on distorting the full Senate debate over the issue.

Read the full op-ed in The Hill.