October 31, 2018

Trump’s Proposed End to Birthright Citizenship

“President Trump plans to sign an executive order that would remove the right to citizenship for babies of non-citizens and unauthorized immigrants born on U.S. soil," he said in an interview released yesterday.


See past issues

From the Left

The left is in strong agreement that the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees birthright citizenship, and an executive order designed to change that would be both unconstitutional and immoral.

At its core, birthright citizenship is what our 14th Amendment is all about, bridging the Declaration of Independence’s promise that ‘all men are created equal’ with a constitutional commitment that all those born in the United States share in that equality."

Washington Post

“The Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Wong Kim Ark, an 1898 case, that a man born on U.S. soil to parents who were Chinese nationals was a citizen. As part of a 1982 decision, Plyler v. Doe, the high court said that even if someone enters the country illegally, they are within U.S. jurisdiction, and their children born in the U.S. are entitled to the protections of the 14th Amendment."

USA Today

“When the 14th Amendment included the phrase ‘subject to the jurisdiction thereof,’ the framers and the public clearly understood that they were setting aside the children of foreign diplomats. Other visitors to the United States were and continue to be plainly under the jurisdiction of US law. Why else can they be detained and convicted in US courts for violating US law, unlike diplomats?...

“This is not a genuine effort to change the law. This is a genuine effort to inspire President Trump’s voters to go to the ballot box on November 6. President Trump has repeatedly tried to style himself as a conservative who supports the strict constructionist or originalist view of constitutional interpretation. The hypocrisy of ignoring all principles of originalism and trying to rewrite the Constitution by executive order is stunning.”


“This trial balloon is particularly ironic given the conservative movement's obsession with Obama-era executive orders, which it loudly argued marked an assault on the Constitution, calling him ‘King Obama’ -- and much worse. In contrast, they claimed to be ‘constitutional conservatives’ -- faithful to the vision of the Founding Fathers."


“The Public Religion Research Institute and the Atlantic released a survey saying ‘fears about cultural displacement’ were a main factor in white working-class Americans' support for Trump... To many among Trump’s base, restricting — if not full-out stopping — immigration from countries where the citizens are predominantly Latino or black or practice Islam is perhaps the best way to ‘Make America Great Again.’"

Washington Post

“Not only would such an order be unconstitutional, but it would be wrong as a matter of principle. Birthright citizenship is an important emblem of equality and inclusion, and an affirmation that being an American doesn’t depend on bloodlines. That’s a concept that suits a nation of immigrants."

LA Times

From the Right

The right generally agrees that the children of illegal immigrants should not automatically be granted citizenship, but is divided on how this can be accomplished.

The right generally agrees that the children of illegal immigrants should not automatically be granted citizenship, but is divided on how this can be accomplished.

“Categorical birthright citizenship is a bad idea... U.S. citizenship is one of the most valuable things in the world, and we generally don't let people get hugely valuable things because of the criminal acts (even if only mildly criminal) of their parents.”

Volokh Conspiracy

“Only two advanced countries, as classified by the International Monetary Fund, have birthright citizenship. Canada is the other... No European country provides automatic citizenship to children of illegal immigrants. Great Britain did away with the practice in 1983, and Ireland did so in 2004."

Daily Signal

Democrats and their media allies risk overreaching if they think the public agrees with their absolutist view on the matter. The question is, ought we to confer citizenship to every baby born here. We suspect that most people agree, as we do, that children born here to illegal immigrants and legal passers-through should not get citizenship automatically, but children born to permanent residents should."

Washington Examiner

Minority view: “In our current understanding of the 14th Amendment and birthright citizenship, the existence of a permanent underclass of native born non-citizens ends at the first generation. Their children are as American as you, and integration into American life begins in a way that discourages the creation of multigenerational non-citizen ghettos."

The Federalist

Regarding constitutionality, some state that “the 14th Amendment doesn’t say that all persons born in the U.S. are citizens. It says that ‘all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof’ are citizens... Sen. Lyman Trumbull, a key figure in the adoption of the 14th Amendment, said that ‘subject to the jurisdiction’ of the U.S. included not owing allegiance to any other country."

Heritage Foundation

Meanwhile, many others argue that “with the exception of a few years before the Civil War, the United States followed the British rule of jus solis (citizenship defined by birthplace), rather than the rule of jus sanguinis (citizenship defined by that of parents) that prevails in much of Europe... The only way to avoid this straightforward understanding is to misread the 14th Amendment’s text, ‘subject to the jurisdiction thereof,’ as an exception that swallows the jus solis rule.”

American Enterprise Institute

“I am in favor of changing the current understanding of birthright citizenship, but I believe such a change must be done by statute to have any hope of surviving court-scrutiny... if Congress did not believe conferring birthright citizenship was consistent with [federal law], it would have amended the statute."

National Review

Get troll-free political news.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.