The explosion of an issue on the national scene often seems to come from nowhere. That is really a misconception; what more accurately defines the process is that the issue bubbles to the surface of our culture and finally reaches what is called a “tipping point.” The definition of “tipping point” is the moment at which an object is displaced from a state of stable equilibrium into a new and different state. That has now occurred with what has become known as “anchor babies,” and the problem lies with the misinformation that has been bantered about.
The common argument against changing how we treat babies born here of “illegal immigrants” goes back to our Constitution. To effectively deal with matters after the American Civil War, including treatment of the newly-freed slaves, an omnibus amendment (the 14th) was adopted in 1868. Some people who argue for retaining the status quo claim that the protection of birthright is the sole matter of that amendment and to change our law would gut that amendment. Section 1 of the amendment states: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the State wherein they reside.” It is a very important part of that section, but it is not all of that section and just a portion of the amendment.
I have read that clause over and over again and I don’t see where it says “even if they are here illegally.” Of course, at that time, there weren’t immigration laws like we have today. The entirely reasonable concerns that we now have about border control didn’t exist 150 years ago. Does anyone really believe that the people living in that era deliberately adopted an amendment that would allow people to come here illegally, have babies, and then make the argument that the child was an American citizen? That would be quite doubtful.
The same people who argue that the amendment awards U. S. Citizenship to the children of illegal aliens also lead you to believe that the courts have adjudicated this matter. Actually, they have not. What the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled is that children of permanent resident aliens (a classification under the immigration laws comprised of people who are here legally) are deemed to be U.S. Citizens. Our Supreme Court has never stated that the child of an illegal alien is automatically a citizen.