The 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the dangerous misinterpretation of the birthright citizenship clause

A similar version of the D.A. King essay below appeared in the June 17, 2009 edition of the Atlanta Journal Constitution newspaper:
"Pro & Con Should the U.S. deny citizenship to children of illegal immigrants?"


The need for legislation ending the lunacy of awarding birthright citizenship to children born in the United States to illegal alien parents is clear.

It won't be. But the issue needs to be discussed.

One of the myths surrounding the 14th amendment to the United States Constitution and the current convoluted misinterpretation of its birthright citizenship clause is that automatic U.S. citizenship is granted to every child born on American soil.

It is not. Doing so was never the intention of Congress.

Despite lawfully present parents, children born in the United States to diplomats and other public ministers of foreign nations are not awarded what is arguably the most coveted and valuable title in the world: 'United States Citizen.'

The fact that previous bills aimed at correcting the un-intended consequences of the misinterpretation of the citizenship clause speaks volumes on the power of the well-heeled lobby that has made a thriving industry out of the organized crime that is illegal immigration.

A result of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the citizenship language in the 14th Amendment was intended to reverse the injustice of the Dred Scott decision of 1857 that, simply described, denied constitutional protections and citizenship to black Americans.

Before its ratification in 1868, Michigan's Senator Jacob Howard, author of the citizenship clause, made the intent crystal clear to the Senate: "This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the government of the United States, but will include all other classes of persons."

The 14th amendment was never meant to reward illegal aliens with the jackpot grand prize of becoming a parent of a new American citizen who would then serve as immunity and insulation from punishment for violation of U.S. immigration laws and an anchor in the U.S. welfare state.

It was passed before the nation had laws regulating immigration. There were no illegal aliens for the mid 19th century lawmakers to imagine or define.

The 21st century reality is that in addition to taking in more legal immigrants than any nation on earth, the U.S. also suffers more illegal immigration than any other country. Using Border Patrol apprehension statistics, Arizona Senator John McCain estimated that in 2002 nearly four million illegal aliens entered the U.S.

Upon capture, the belligerent defense from today's well prepared illegal aliens facing deportation is the now standard "You can’t deport me; I have an American citizen child..." In today's fading republic, enforcement of immigration laws is depicted as "mean-spirited" and "breaking up families."

Many legal scholars have noted the disparity of the intention of the change to the constitution and the end result of the amendment.

Writing on the history of the 14th amendment in a 1997 edition of the Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities, Emory University Associate Dean Polly Price accurately noted that "politically no one intended to accord equal citizenship rights solely on the basis of birth within the territory."

We are seeing endless advocacy for open borders and expanding NAFTA to include the free flow of people. We watch as hordes of resentful illegal border crossers invade our nation and millions of "guest workers" are imported each year each year. Continuing the suicidal practice of awarding automatic citizenship to their offspring is effectively taking the power and authority of controlling America's future away from the American people and surrendering it to willing foreigners who recognize a golden goose when they see one.

We are progressively making the terms "American citizen" and "sovereignty" meaningless.

King is president and founder of the Georgia-based Dustin Inman Society. On the Web:


Birthright Citizenship

The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads in part:

"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."

Babies born to illegal alien mothers within U.S. borders are called anchor babies because under the 1965 immigration Act, they act as an anchor that pulls the illegal alien mother and eventually a host of other relatives into permanent U.S. residency. (Jackpot babies is another term).

The 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868 to protect the rights of native-born Black Americans, whose rights were being denied as recently-freed slaves. In 1866, Senator Jacob Howard clearly spelled out the intent of the 14th Amendment by writing:

"Every person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States. This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons. It settles the great question of citizenship and removes all doubt as to what persons are or are not citizens of the United States. This has long been a great desideratum in the jurisprudence and legislation of this country."

The original intent of the 14th Amendment was clearly not to facilitate illegal aliens defying U.S. law at taxpayer expense. Current estimates indicate there may be over 300,000 anchor babies born each year in the U.S., thus causing illegal alien mothers to add more to the U.S. population each year than immigration from all sources in an average year before 1965.

The correct interpretation of the 14th Amendment is that an illegal alien mother is subject to the jurisdiction of her native country, as is her baby.

Over a century ago, the Supreme Court correctly confirmed this restricted interpretation of citizenship in the so-called 'Slaughter-House cases' [83 US 36 (1873)] and in [112 US 94 (1884)]. In Elk v.Wilkins, the phrase 'subject to its jurisdiction' excluded from its operation 'children of ministers, consuls, and citizens of foreign states born within the United States.' In Elk, the American Indian claimant was considered not an American citizen because the law required him to be 'not merely subject in some respect or degree to the jurisdiction of the United States, but completely subject to their political jurisdiction and owing them direct and immediate allegiance.'

Congress subsequently passed a special act to grant full citizenship to American Indians, who were not citizens even through they were born within the borders of the United States. The Citizens Act of 1924, codified in 8USCSß1401, provides that:

The following shall be nationals and citizens of the United States at birth:
(a) a person born in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof;
(b) a person born in the United States to a member of an Indian, Eskimo, Aleutian, or other aboriginal tribe.

American citizens must be wary of elected politicians voting to illegally extend our generous social benefits to illegal aliens and other criminals.

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