The Meaning of Citizenship

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Updated: Aug 18, 2023
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The meaning of citizenship is the position or status of being a citizen of a particular country. Citizenship is gained by meeting the legal requirements of a national, state, or local government. A nation grants certain rights and privileges to its citizens; in return, citizens are expected to obey their country’s laws and defend it against its enemies. There are three ways a person can become a citizen in the United States: “derivation citizenship,” “acquisition citizenship,” and “birthright citizenship.” “Derivation citizenship” can be acquired if one or both parents have been naturalized. “Acquisition citizenship” can be acquired by being born to parents who are citizens of the United States. Finally, “birthright citizenship” can be acquired by being born in the United States or in one of its territories. All three of these forms of citizenship are rights and should be kept.

There is also a system the United States uses to determine citizenship. This system is called jus soli, a Latin term meaning law of the soil. Because the United States uses this system, whoever is born in the United States and is subject to its jurisdiction is automatically granted citizenship. Jus sanguinis is when a person acquires citizenship through their parents or ancestors. “Birthright citizenship” has been an issue in the United States, and societies do not exactly agree with allowing this form of citizenship. There are many understandable reasons why someone might disagree with this type of citizenship, but it is a right backed up by the 14th Amendment. The 14th Amendment states that “All persons born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” “Birthright citizenship” should not be revoked by executive order because it’s a right for the child to be counted as a citizen of the United States.

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Although many people abuse the advantages of citizenship, it is not the child’s fault how they were brought into the country. Many mothers are known to get pregnant and enter the United States just in time to deliver their child on American soil. Women do this to have a better chance at becoming legal residents of the United States. “Anchor Baby” is a term used to refer to a child born to a non-citizen mother in a country with birthright citizenship, especially when viewed as providing an advantage to family members seeking to secure citizenship or legal residency. The term started being used in the 1980s and 1990s. It was meant to describe Vietnamese immigrants who escaped conflict. These Vietnamese immigrants would come to the United States and deliver their children on U.S. soil as an “anchor” to stay in the country. The term has been used more frequently with the passing years to describe women who will “hop” over the border to deliver their babies in the United States. Lawmakers have used the term to try and pass anti-immigration laws in the House and Senate. The term is viewed as dehumanizing and racist towards the children who have been delivered that way in the United States. Although women may deliver their babies in the United States to receive citizenship, a child cannot petition to grant their parents citizenship until they are 21 years of age.

Lately, people have been trying to eliminate the right of “birthright citizenship”. The 14th Amendment states that “All persons born in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.” Some argue that “birthright citizenship” can be revoked because of the phrase in the amendment that states “subject to the jurisdiction thereof”. President Trump believes and wants to revoke “birthright citizenship” with an executive order. Because of that one phrase in The Constitution, many people believe that citizenship was only meant for people who were born to legal citizens on U.S. soil. The belief that “birthright citizenship” should not be given to children of undocumented immigrants or people living in the United States on temporary visas makes some think that children should not be granted “birthright citizenship” if they don’t meet the expectations of a citizen. Those expectations include being birthed by legal citizens and being born on U.S. soil. Although President Trump might be able to revoke “birthright citizenship”, it might not be easy for him. It is a right for a child born on U.S. soil to be granted citizenship, which is backed up by The Constitution. The child should not have to pay for their parents’ mistakes.

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Birthright citizenship was first created for free white persons born in U.S. soil to naturalized parents. This law was put into place in 1790, and it said that any free white persons could gain citizenship if they had lived in the United States for at least two years and if they had good character ( When this law was first put into place black people were unable to have birthright citizenship because they were of African descent. People debated on that for a while, even before and after the Civil War. In 1864, Attorney General Edward Bates tackled the issue in connection with African-American members of the Union Army, finding that free men of color born on American soil were American ( Congress then passed a civil rights law that extended birthright citizenship to anyone born on U.S. soil. If birthright citizenship were to be taken away then America would be considered a racist country. There would be a lot of issues going on and citizenship would be questioned. People would question their citizenship and if it’s valid. Revoking birthright citizenship would make the United States look bad. If birthright citizenship gets revoked that means that anyone who was born here out of undocumented immigrants has to get their citizenship revoked and that would be very unjust.

Finding a way to make this type of citizenship in the United States would be a better answer rather than just revoking it all together. People in the United States may not be content with a final decision no matter what it is, but birthright citizenship is a right and it should not be taken away. In conclusion, birthright citizenship should not be revoked from a child. The child is its own person and who is to say s/he will follow in their parents’ footsteps. They might help the country and meet the requirements and privileges that being a citizen comes with. A child born to undocumented immigrants in the United States should be able to have the same rights that any other child born to in the United States has. People born in the United States from immigrant parents should be able to serve the country and demonstrate their loyalty. They should be able to fix their country’s situations by voting and having a voice. These children should be able to show their country their loyalty by serving in the military, voting on certain topics or certain candidates on different positions, by helping out in their community, making their state a better safer place, etc. A child born into birthright citizenship should be able to prove him/herself to be the true citizen for the country they were born on, in this case, the United States.

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The Meaning of Citizenship. (2020, Apr 02). Retrieved from