Birthright Citizenship vs. Illegal Immigrants Children in US

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Birthright Citizenship vs. Illegal Immigrants Children in US


When laws are drafted in Congress, then, they become strong to the extent that many may be affected by the provisions. It is viewed that if the bill to revoke the laws anchored in the United State’s constitution by the 14th commandment goes through, the children born of the immigrants would be in a difficult position. This paper looks at this issue and critically analyzes the positive argument and negative arguments, and proposes that such should not happen.


In the United States of America, a congressional representative has reintroduced the bill on birthright known as the Birthright Citizenship Act or abbreviated as HR 140. This bill if it goes through is meant to deny the US citizenship to the children who are born in the United States, and especially if the birth is undocumented or is born of non-resident parents. As Loucky (196) reports, there have been many bills that have been introduced to deny children who are of non-resident parents United States Citizenship. This debate has widened with many arguing that children who are born of parents who are not Americans should acquire citizenship by other means other than being granted birthrights. It is right to argue that children whose parents do not have the birth citizenship should be allowed to have birthright citizenship, and their case should not be interpreted as that of their parents.

More important is the argument that the parents belong to the kind of citizenship acquired using other means like naturalization, but for the children who specifically are born in the land of Americans, then, they should be grated the birthrights. Interpreting the 14th amendment of the US constitution, Collins (22) notes that it was perhaps meant to bring in the radical ideals of the privileges to every person in the United States. The racial segregation that was the norm before then was to end, and more so, against the blacks whose majorities were from the African countries. It states, “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.” Largely, the interpretation that is being contested now is that they should have birthright citizenship despite being “immigrants.”

This law is not offensive in any way, and in fact, what is being introduced in the clause is what will become offensive. The law is clear of the immigrants, and there is no way that the illegal immigrants are granted citizenship, but those who found themselves in the United States of America in commanding circumstances are granted the citizenship using other means. Their children are not part of immigration but are born in that land, and therefore, naturally, they belong to the United States. The basis is that all Native Americans are naturally citizens of United States, and so, even those who find themselves in the land out of birth should be considered as natives. They should not be seen as non-American natives because their parents were immigrants. Children should not be subjected to unnecessary scrutiny because perhaps their names do not have commonalities with those of the United States of America.

Maternal tourism refers to a situation where women go to the United States legally or even to Canada to give birth there. The two nations are the only developed countries that give birthright citizenship with the United States being the one mostly quoted about this. Writing about this phenomenon, Coles (63) notes that there are single women who travel to the United States or Canada to give their birth to their child in those countries, in the hope that he or she would be granted birthright citizenship. Again, it works well for equal protections where a person can easily be granted stay in the land as a person who was born in that land. Specifically, the newborn babies are given or conferred as children of United States under the laws of Jus Soli or Jus Sanguinis commonly known as birthright citizenship (Coles 63).

In the United States, the Anchor babies that are born total up to more than 30,000 each year. Actually, this figure was put for Californian state only with expectations that they could be more than a million children in the whole of United States. As Sheehy (63) writes that the anchor babies are the ones that are born in situation of automatic citizenship, and here, it means that the illegal families are entitled to the state, federal or local welfare benefits that is paid by the American taxpayer. They help anchor the families securely in United States on when they get to the age of 21; they are at a position to sponsor the immigration of any other member of their family. Hundreds of thousands of these children are born and it could be said that their mothers could be considered as aliens. Actually, as Sheehy (63) notes, two thirds of the births in Los Angeles are to illegal aliens and more so, from Mexico.

By definition, birthright citizenship is the citizenship that goes by the automatic means and usually to a child born on a particular country’s territory and no matter the origin of their parents they become automatic citizens. It also applies that the parents can become temporary workers, illegal immigrants or even tourists. Writing about this, Hansen (65) argues that in the recent times, there have been extensive efforts to limit citizenship to curb the rising cases of immigrants. This would then mean that if at all this goes through, the children that are born of immigrant parents would cease to be granted the U.S birthrights and naturally, it can spell doom to most people living in the United States. These efforts dates back as early as 1997, and as early as the year 2011, there are still reintroduction of such laws in Congress.

Only two of the developed nations are known to practice birthright citizenship, and these being Canada and the United States. In the United States, these laws are anchored in the constitution especially with the 14th amendment that ensures that the children that are born of immigrants in the United States have rights to have citizenship. Their parents considered as just workers, tourists, or illegal aliens, and so, their status is just anchored by their children. In Canada however, there are restrictions that are being crafted, and the situation may not just apply as it is in United States. For example, Dauvergne (132) qualifies this by noting that the Canadian government has proposed some restrictions and change on rules for the citizens that are born outside Canada on their passing of citizenship.

There are nations that practice this kind of citizenship, but they are not under the category of developed nations but developing nations. Examples of these include; Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Cambodia, Colombia, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, Fiji, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, El Salvador, Ecuador, Dominican Republic and Dominica. The laws are just like those of United States that a person who is born in the land could be considered as a citizen of the nation. A person also of parentage that is unknown and found in the land of United States and is under the age of five could be considered for citizenship of the land until he attains the age of 21. It could be seen clearly then that the situations under which birthright citizenship for children of immigrant parents are compelling, and while their parents are just aliens, the children are born in the land and should have the benefits of a native.

As a way of justifying the debate as to the need to have the birthright citizenship changed, proponents of this give ideas that when the 14th amendment was being anchored in the constitution, there only existed 37 states (Ankario 259). Therefore, with the current number of states, it is no longer applicable as differing views have been incorporated, and that lawyers should stop arguing on this basis whenever there is a stranger in the country. Research has shown that hundred of thousands troop in as illegal immigrants and then sire children who are entitled to have United States citizenship. The limitation that was put by Immigration and Nationality Act of the year 1965 was 300,000 with 170,000 being from the Eastern Hemisphere countries. Not any country should exceed 20,000 per year, and if there is anyone contravening this, then, his or her visa should be revoked.

Bill H.R 1868 sought to limit the birthright citizenship for the children who are born in the United States and are of immigrants especially the undocumented ones. It was introduced in the year 2009 and was meant to amend the one that exist the Immigration and Nationality Act that considers a person born in the land of United States. Generally, the bill sought to put the following recognitions of a person who belongs to United States: A U.S citizen or national, a resident who is lawful and has permanency and an alien who is performing active services in the United States such as the Armed forces. The proponents of the bill see it as a way of stopping the granting of citizenships to people or the children who are illegal and as a way of rewarding the illegal behaviors. Particular arguments are that the United States people do not nee such kind of person and if passed, America would be belonging to the Americans.

Citizenship should be made up of three major things namely politics, social rights and civil liberties, as taught by Marshall on a seminar work about relationship between citizenship and the idea of social welfare. Even though citizenship is universal, the universality is not supposed linearly to automatically transfers itself to social welfare provision. This is true, but again, the social welfare should be defined in the category of the persons who are somewhere at a particular moment. Therefore, it is arguable that the persons who are born in United States or in Canada ought to enjoy all the rights social, civil and political. Other arguments put that the birthright law should be rejected on the basis that people should not be rewarded as they have ‘sneaked’ in United States. However, what should be held as supreme is the constitution and rights should be enjoyed by everybody with total disregard of where they come from or who they are.

The counter argument as given by Halliday (193) is that birthrights cannot be compared to inheritance, and therefore, granting citizenship and birthrights to children of immigrants cannot mean that they are capable of inheriting what is there. The birthright actually precedes the human law, it is temporal, and logical, and as well, it is an aspect of humanity that reflects on the creation of human especially likeness to the creator the God. If persons are rejected on this basis, it squarely means that one is rejecting the creation of God, and that is going against general ethics of living. Other arguments are based on the cost of having them in the United States with some noting that the cost on Medicare is huge; and this is not viable at all under circumstances of the nation and incorporation of morals.


Some arguments that are put either for something or against it are ridiculous; but sometimes, they make sense. The argument as we have discussed in this paper is on whether the law stated in the 14th amendment of the United State’s constitution on birthrights should be revoked or retained. In this argument, we have put a case to support the laws and especially on the notion that the laws applies to children not the mothers or fathers. Children who are born in a certain land should be spared the agony of rejecting the parents and instead, protect them just as it would be right to protect any native of American. With the bill coming up on revoking the law that outlines the above, it puts the situation of children born of immigrants in a negative position, and the government or another person who has a say in the drafting of laws in congress should put a fight to protect the children.

Works Cited

Ankario, Darrell. Another Man’s Sombrero: A Conservative Broadcaster’s Undercover Journey across the Mexican Border. Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc, 2008.

Coles, Tim. International Business and Tourism: Global Issues, Contemporary Interactions. New York: Routledge Publishers, 2008.

Collins, Charles. The Fourteenth Amendment and the States. New Jersey: The Lawbook Exchange Publishing, 2008.

Dauvergne, Catherine. Making People Illegal: What Globalization Means for Migration and Law. Oxford: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Halliday, Paul. Habeas Corpus: From England to Empire. Oxford: Harvard University Press, 2010.

Hansen, Randall. Dual Nationality, Social Rights and Federal Citizenship in the U.S. and Europe: The Reinvention of Citizenship. New York: Berghahn Books, 2002.

Loucky, James. Immigration in America Today: An Encyclopedia. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006.

Sheehy, Daniel. Fighting Immigration. Bloomington: Rooftop Publishing, 2006.




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