On Tuesday, the 2024 White House campaign of former President Trump announced that he plans to remove birthright citizenship. This proposal has been controversial, with it being challenged by legal experts and immigration advocates. This is not a new policy proposition as Trump has considered this option in the past. This announcement coincides with the Supreme Court case of United States v. Wong Kim Ark, which established the constitutional right to birthright citizenship 125 years ago.
The proposal seeks to remove birthright citizenship through executive order. The 14th Amendment grants citizenship to those born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof. The interpretation of this amendment determines that it applies to children born in the United States, regardless of the immigration status of their parents. The interpretation was established in a 1898 Supreme Court case involving a US citizen with Chinese parents.
The 14th Amendment was enacted after the Civil War to guarantee equal rights to former slaves. Some immigration restrictionists argue that this law excludes the children of other groups, like undocumented immigrants, from its benefits. The Reconstruction Congress explained in 1866 that the narrow exception to birthright citizenship applied to the children of diplomats and Native American tribes. These children were under the jurisdiction of a separate sovereign and did not have to comply with all US laws. On the other hand, immigrants and their children living in the United States were and are required to follow all federal and state laws.
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The Trump campaign has stated that the executive order will explain the clear meaning of the 14th Amendment, stating that the children of foreign nationals born in the United States are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States defined in the Constitution. The idea of ending birthright citizenship has been previously floated in Trump’s presidency, with a draft executive order circulated in his term in office.
At the time of the Axios interview in 2018, Trump claimed that he planned to issue an executive order ending birthright citizenship. He believed that this policy did not require a constitutional amendment. The idea caused controversy and most experts still stand by the fact that an executive order cannot alter the interpretation of the 14th Amendment.
Supporters of the measure believe that this could lead to a judicial revocation of birthright citizenship. However, Trump did not trigger that court fight on the way out of the White House. Instead, for the second time, Trump has focused on immigration and border security in his campaign, aiming to make these areas a top priority. The release by Trump’s campaign last Tuesday claimed that the United States has ‘become one of the few countries in the world to extend citizenship to the children of illegal aliens even if both parents are not citizens nor even legally present in the United States.’
Regardless of the clear intentions and benefits of the 14th Amendment to create a fair society, there are valid arguments for and against birthright citizenship. While the amendment aimed to ensure equal rights for all, some people feel that this practice allows for individuals to abuse the system to enter or remain in the country unlawfully.
For instance, it is possible that individuals could get pregnant while in the US and give birth to a child in order to ensure that they would be granted citizenship. This loophole could be perceived as an unfair way to remain in the country and benefit from resources that they would not otherwise have access to. There are concerns that by ending birthright citizenship, there could also be negative impacts on employment and the economy, among other factors.
Those in favor of the policy argue that it will help to tackle the issue of illegal immigration. They suggest that removing birthright citizenship will discourage non-citizens from entering or remaining in the country unlawfully. This is because without the incentive of citizenship for their children, they may no longer find it worth it to circumvent immigration laws to come to the US. On the other hand, it is possible that this policy could increase undocumented immigration, as individuals who are already here would be afraid to return home without their children. They may also feel there is no reason to attempt to enter the US legally.
It is crucial to ensure that any potential policy changes take into account both the needs of the US economy and the greater good, as well as the potential impact on individuals, particularly disadvantaged groups. It is also essential to understand that the constitutional interpretation of the 14th Amendment is fiercely debated and has a significant impact on the policy outcome.
Furthermore, the issue of birthright citizenship is complex in its implications. It is not just a question of legalities but of individuals’ lives. Families, particularly those made up of undocumented immigrants, could be severely impacted by any policy change. The US has a long and poignant history of immigration, and there have always been tensions that arise as a result of it. To manage this situation, it is essential to have a balanced perspective that takes into consideration the demands of the people, the law, and the country as a whole.
In conclusion, Trump’s proposal to end birthright citizenship via an executive order on his first day in office in 2024 is controversial and attracting criticism from both immigration advocates and legal experts. However, its supporters claim that should the order be challenged, and the case reaches the Supreme Court, this could lead to a positive outcome that could potentially favor the policy change.
Despite its complicated nature, birthright citizenship is worthy of consideration and further thought. Ultimately, a fair and effective policy solution must take into account both the broader implications and the individual lives it would affect.
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