Articles on Birthright Citizenship and the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution

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 canít 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: