On Birthright Citizenship
I believe President Donald Trump is (probably) correct in his estimation that granting citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants, simply for being born here, is unconstitutional and I mostly find myself in agreement with his reasons for wanting to do so.
But does he have the authority to alter this policy all on his own? I would have to lean towards not likely. That is why acting through Congress instead would be the better strategy in dealing with “”birthright citizenship.”” Regardless if it actually was Constitutional, I find it almost certain that any Executive Order made by the President on this matter would be rejected just as swiftly as were his attempts at limiting immigration from select Middle Eastern countries.
Congress taking the lead on this front is more likely to stand in Court and would also be the more democratic approach. The latter point being a development that should be encouraged by all, as the Powers of the People’s House have consistently waned for decades now, particularly so during the previous administration. (You’ll recall Obama’s pen and his phone.) And while President Trump has accomplished a considerable amount through Executive action, It would also be refreshing for a conservative leaning House and Senate to actually pass something and not have these majorities totally wasted, as it is unlikely they remain intact for the entirety of a potential two-term Trump presidency.
The crux of the matter at hand, however, appears to be rooted in a battle of semantics. The Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment holds that among U.S. citizens, “”All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”” Legal scholars and historians have noted that at the time of the amendments ratification, jurisdiction was understood as referring to the political allegiances a person may hold and if any foreign governments have a claim to that person’s citizenship. The implication here being that, for example, a child born to parents who are citizens of Mexico is also in turn, by birthright, a citizen of Mexico, just how the children born to U.S. citizens traveling abroad are considered natural born citizens.
The problem with the jus soli (right of the soil) approach is that it renders the jurisdiction clause meaningless. If everyone born in America automatically falls under the jurisdiction of the United States, then there is simply no purpose for the existence of the clause. Most countries grant citizenship to the children of its citizens born in foreign lands. This would obviously mean that many of the children in question do in fact fall under the jurisdiction of their parents’ home countries.
We the People get to have a say in who is allowed to join this glorious club of ours. This point cannot be undersold, as it is a requirement if we are to truly be a sovereign people with a legitimate form of government. We should also remember that processes and procedures come before policy and thus we must see to it that we go about deciding this issue in the right way (through the Legislature), rather than adding to the ever growing powers of the Judiciary and the Presidency.