Birthright Citizenship

“Birthright citizenship” refers to awarding citizenship to everyone born in the United States (with a few very minor exceptions, such as the children of accredited foreign diplomats and of foreign heads of state on official visits to the U.S.). Is this a good policy? Is it required by the Constitution? Here is Richard Posner, writing at his blog:

  • This rule — though thought by some…to be compelled by section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment [may not be]…
  • If birthright citizenship is not commanded by the Constitution, it can be eliminated by amending the statutory provision that I mentioned…
  • Most countries outside the Western Hemisphere do not recognize birthright citizenship; instead they base citizenship of children on the citizenship of their parents or other lawful connections between the parents and the country (ethnicity or religion, for example).
  • Should we adopt that approach…it would probably on balance increase the size of the illegal immigrant population…
  • One would have, as in some European countries, generations of illegals — persons who had never lived anywhere else, who could not feasibly be deported (and to where? — the country of origin of their grandparents, a country with which they had no connection, and the language of which they did not speak?).

Comments (10)

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  1. Tom H. says:

    Interesting. It would be great if we could chnage the law legislatively.

  2. Tom H. says:

    Ditto Tom’s comment. And if we don’t do it soon, half the world will be coming here to get free health care.

  3. Stephen C. says:

    No other country is doing what we are doing. They have too much sense.

  4. Brian Williams. says:

    It seems to me that the welfare state is the real problem. It creates a strong incentive for illegal immigration. Eliminate the welfare state and we won’t have to worry about birthright citizenship.

  5. Devon Herrick says:

    Immigrants create a lot of wealth and economic opportunities for both the native-born and the country as a whole. Numerous industries could hardly exist without unskilled labor (think slaughterhouses, chicken processors). That said, I believe there are some negative externalities from uncontrolled immigration of unskilled labor. My biggest fear is a generation of children born to illegal immigrants, growing up poor and becoming pawns in the political battle to turn American into a European-style welfare state. A country never gets wealthy by competing on cheap labor. Countries become wealthy investing in capital that increases the productivity of labor – which usually means skilled labor.

  6. Erik says:

    I agree, but I say, instead of eliminating the birthright citizenship, maybe we should have all those born in our country to illegal’s micro-chipped so they cannot get free services. We no longer need those ugly tattoos on the forearm as a chip is much more discrete. I mean really, we could keep it a secret from the mom too, right after birth “BING” in it goes.

    My only question is?

    Will illegal Canadian’s and Western Europeans have to submit to the same treatment? I mean they are generally white so maybe they get a pass?

  7. Tom says:

    Yes Erik, as part of your plan I say we use a skin color chart. Only 1-6 is allowed in.

  8. Virginia says:

    Very interesting idea. Why should we have citizenship at all if the only purpose is to assess taxes and make welfare payments? Surely there is a better way…

  9. artk says:

    I you want to question the idea of birthright citizenship, why just limit that discussion to the children with one or two non citizen parents. The infant of a non citizen has no more ties their parents country of origin than infants of children born to citizen have to the country of origin of their parents (or grandparents or great grandparents or however far back you want to go). In my experience the biggest burdens on society I’ve met were the rich children of families that date back generations. If this is the greatest country on earth then make every generation prove they deserve citizenship. If you don’t measure up, you’re out!

  10. anon says:

    leticia olalia morales of 15501 pasadena ave #8 tustin ca 92780 submitted fake documents and paid 5000 dollars to obtain a US tourist visa. she also submitted fake employment records to obtain a work visa. she is now applying for citizenship. her contact at the embassy was man named sandman.