Born in the USA – But not a Citizen

Fresh in the wake of the controversial Arizona law is new law that could cause even more issues for illegal immigrants. Legislation has been introduced in Congress, which is supported by two states, that aims to deny a birth certificate to a baby born to illegal immigrant parents.

Previous bills similar to this one in nature have not gotten anywhere in Congress. But this one already has 91 co-sponsors, signaling that it could gather some steam. Historically, the U.S. has not denied anyone the right to citizenship if they were born on U.S. soil. This has been available to people from the aftermath of the civil war.

The 14th amendment addressed this issue and clarified that children of slaves were indeed citizen of the nation. It states that “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.”This has been extended to American Indians, Chinese guest workers, visiting diplomats and others as well. According to immigration lawyers, the birthright citizenship principle has never been challenged successfully.

But Texas State Rep. Leo Berman is arguing that the 14th amendment was never intended for foreigners, but rather for freedmen. He and other opponents of the birthright citizenship point out that the phrase subject to the jurisdiction thereof does not cover illegal immigrants. However, others point out that as long as they are in the country, they are subject to the country’s laws and therefore come under the country’s jurisdiction.
While the debate continues, only one thing is for certain. America is in for another long and controversial debate on illegal immigration.