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The Importance of Preserving Birthright Citizenship in the United States

In late October, United States President Donald Trump granted an interview to Axios, an online news outlet that also films segments for the cable television network HBO. In that interview, the President made a bold claim related to birthright citizenship, a legal principle known in Latin as jus soli. In essence, jus soli is established in the U.S. Constitution by the 14th Amendment, and it essentially grants citizenship to individuals born on American soil, something that doesn’t sit well with Trump’s anti-immigration views. To understand this situation, which could have an impact on policies regarding immigration, San Diego residents need to know why the concept of birthright citizenship is so important.

If birthright citizenship were a legal principle that Trump could do away with by means of an executive order, he would probably do it. This much can be gleaned from the Axios interview, during which he said, “It has to end.” The main problem with this assertion is that executive orders cannot override the Constitution, but there are other issues as well. First of all, Trump seems to think the jus soli doctrine is only practiced in the U.S., which is simply not true. Even the Center for Immigration Studies, an organization opposed to immigration, correctly states that more than 30 nations around the world also grant birthright citizenship.

Second, there’s evidence that shows jus soli has substantial socioeconomic advantages. When nations place restrictions on birthright citizenship, disenfranchisement happens because of lower assimilation rates. Denying citizenship to individuals born in a country to foreign parents leads to resentment and fragmented communities. Radical thoughts are bound to arise, and there’s a higher potential for “brain drain.” Imagine a girl born to Indian parents in Kentucky. If she obtains college scholarships and earns an engineering degree, her lack of American citizenship may prompt her to take her talents abroad. 

The greatness the U.S. has achieved as the most powerful economy in the world has a lot to do with birthright citizenship. When pilgrims arrived from Europe to form the early American colonies, they knew their children would be citizens of their origin countries as well as of the New World. They were the first Americans, and their birthright gave them an edge when the United States became an independent nation. Subsequent generations of immigrants who raised families took great pride in building communities where their natural-born American children would grow and prosper. 

Upsetting the status quo of jus soli could create a deep conflict among American communities. It may even result in another civil war. That already happened when African-Americans born into slavery were denied birthright citizenship in the 17th century. It took a lot of blood to ratify the 14th Amendment, which reflects the jus soli doctrine the Founding Fathers adopted from English common law, and Americans should never have to accept such bloodshed again, particularly when a country of immigrants has developed into a world power based on the contributions of those born here.

Families whose children are born in the United States rightly assume their children are U.S. citizens. In this volatile political climate, though, it’s understandable that many immigrant parents of American-born children are concerned about their kids’ future status as U.S. citizens. If you have concerns about a family member’s citizenship status or you’d like information on family-based immigration, San Diego residents should get in touch with the trustworthy immigration attorneys at KS Visa Law. Call 858-874-0711 to schedule an appointment.

December 2018
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