The panel of Reagan and Clinton appointees noted: "Hamdi is not any American citizen alleged to be an enemy combatant by the government; he is an American citizen captured and detained by American allied forces in a foreign theater during active hostilities and determined by the United States to have been indeed allied with enemy forces."
Left unresolved, however, was whether Hamdi should even be considered an American at all.
As the Friends of Immigration Law Enforcement (FILE), a New York-based immigration reform group, noted in a complaint seeking federal court review of Hamdi's claim to birthright citizenship: "Mr. Hamdi is not an American in any real sense of the word." The citizenship clause in the 14th Amendment states: "(A)ll Persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States." But FILE argues persuasively that the custom of blanket birthright citizenship is supported neither by the 14th Amendment nor by legal precedent.
American Indians who, as members of foreign tribal governments, were not "subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States, did not receive birthright citizenship until more than a half-century after the 14th Amendment was enacted. Moreover, the long-upheld practice of excluding children of foreign diplomats from birthright citizenship shows that the amendment allowed for exclusion of certain U.S.-born children based on the legal status of their parents.
Clearly, the custom of granting automatic citizenship at birth to children of tourists and temporary workers such as Hamdi, tourists, and to countless "anchor babies" delivered by illegal aliens on American soil, undermines the integrity of citizenship -- not to mention national security. Originally intended to ensure the citizenship rights of newly freed slaves and their families after the Civil War, the citizenship clause has evolved into a magnet for alien lawbreakers and a shield for terrorist infiltrators and enemy combatants.
If the courts refuse to close the birthright citizenship loopholes, Congress must. Citizenship is too precious to squander on accidental Americans in Name Only.