Among developed nations, only the U.S. and Canada still offer automatic citizenship to children born on their soil. Not a single European country follows the practice. We take this right for granted, but the evidence is that this entitlement encourages a booming birth tourism business (which undermines our immigration objectives) and virtually guarantees that the number of people in the country illegally will continue. But not if Donald Trump has anything to say about it. Federal agents recently raided 37 sites in southern California, which appear to have provided thousands of Chinese women the chance to give birth to babies on U.S. soil in exchange for fees of up to $60,000. Enticements included not only the opportunity to acquire automatic citizenship for their children – a package of free schooling, food, health and retirement benefits potentially worth millions of dollars. The New York Times notes that affidavits filed by law enforcement authorities “quote Chinese government sources as reporting that Chinese nationals had 10,000 babies in the United States in 2012, up from 4,200 in 2008.”
Donald Trump is right, it is time we stopped the deplorable pandering and deal with the issue at hand that has continued to plague this country for decades now. Five years ago I wrote in this very space that Congress was considering closing this gaping loophole. The bills went nowhere and the problem is back to haunt us once again.
The constitution grants citizenship to anyone born in the US, except children of foreign diplomats. This has been the case for nearly 150 years. But in recent years the right to U S citizenship by birth--Jus soli-- has come under attack by those who think that it is being abused by illegal immigrants to gain a foothold to U S citizenship.
Last July Senator Lindsay Graham proposed a change to the 14th Amendment which grants American citizenship by right of birth. He proposes to change the long-standing legal tradition because he believes that as the law now stands, pregnant women, so called “baby tourists” travel to the US to give birth for the sole purpose of acquiring US citizenship for their children. ‘Birthright citizenship is a mistake’, goes the mantra, ‘people come here to have babies. They come here drop a child and leave. It’s called drop and leave.’ Valid or not this point of view has been gaining momentum. And although for the past 142 years the fundamental principle of birthright citizenship has been one measure of certain U S citizenship, it is now being seriously challenged. Earlier this month, a group of lawmakers from 15 states launched State Legislators for Legal Immigration, to coordinate efforts to develop legislation to deny birthright citizenship to children of illegal aliens. A review by Think Progress found, based on past votes that 59 % 0f republican legislators support repeal of birthright citizenship. Since 1995, there have been 28 bills introduced in congress seeking to end birthright citizenship. A recent Gallup poll found that immigration is one of the issues on the minds of voters this election cycle, behind only the economy and terrorism.
State Legislators for Legal Immigration, proposes to change the law so that children of foreign nationals will become citizens only if a parent is a US citizen of legal resident. Bills have been introduced in congress seeking to make this the law of the land. Representative Nathan Deal, now a candidate for Georgia governor, introduced H.R.698 in 2005, seeking to limit birthright citizenship in just this manner. Sponsors of the proposed change believe that the current policy of granting US citizenship to children of illegal aliens is an improper application of the 14th Amendment. In the US senate, Senator Mitch McConnell has said that the 14th Amendment is outdated and should possibly be repealed. Senator Chambliss of Georgia is on record as saying that the law should be revisited. And senator Jonny Isaacson, also of Georgia, has said he would support legislation to limit birthright citizenship only to individuals whose parents are legally in the country. The current US policy of birthright citizenship is somewhat unique. Most EU countries, under pressure from increased immigration have modified birthright citizenship so that not everyone born within their borders become citizens. In the UK, Australia,and South Africa, for instance, birthright citizenship is no longer automatic. The same is the case for German and Canadian nationality laws.
While law makers and activists debate removing the economic incentives to illegal immigration, namely jobs, others have turned their attention to birthright citizenship with the avowed purpose of changing it to deny citizenship to children of illegal immigrants and bring US nationality laws in line with those of other countries. But the proposals to change the 14th Amendment raise nettlesome questions of constitutional law. Those who oppose change say that the law covers all aliens regardless of immigration status and is not subject to change except by an amendment to the constitution itself. Yet those who support comprehensive immigration reform have reason to worry. The expected republican takeover of congress next year could move the issue to the top of the congressional calendar. By last count, according to Think Progress, 130 republican lawmakers support the change.