Imagine yourself going to a country you have never been to before, but you know you have some connection to it. You do not recognize their cultures or how the people manifest their lives day-by-day, but you now have to live there since your parents are from there. This situation could happen to people born to parents that are considered as illegal.
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In the United States, every year about 300,000 to 400,000 children are born to illegal immigrants. Even though the status of the parent is known as illegal, U.S. government immediately recognizes the children as U.S. citizens upon birth. Birthright citizenship has always been an issue that administrations found hard to change. Since it has been placed in the Constitution it needs to be considered a real thing and everyone should be following. Even in today’s news, and especially in this political climate, government officials want to remove it since there are a lot of people taking advantage of being a citizen in this country. Being a citizen in the United States entitles you to a lot in this country, and that makes government officials question if they should allow this right to everyone. It makes sense for people that were born here to inherit these rights since it was on American soil. What this paper explores is if birthright citizenship was to be changed or removed and how that affects our country at its already rapid changing state.
Birthright citizenship was first granted in 1868 passing the 14th Amendment to the Constitution letting all slaves be free (Lee 6). At first this topic was supported in 1866 by the Civil Rights Act, and how that went through was Congress passed over President Johnson’s veto before proposing the 14th Amendment. Since the ratification, there were court cases that fought against it and government officials that want some kind of change to it or the removal of it from our Constitution. In all of the cases the Supreme Court always showed the 14th Amendment to disregard the change or removal of it (Lee 7). In recent news, President Trump thinks that birthright citizenship should end and how he would do that is with an executive order (Leary). Not only would that take a lot of work to get rid of, it would also be very wrong and unnecessary to have it removed. Most of the country is made up of immigrants, so to go into the logistics of it everyone would have to leave the country except the Native Americans. There is no possible way there could be a drastic change on it since it has been passed for so long. The fear at the moment is that in the Constitution it is stated subject to the jurisdiction thereof and people took it as someone can change it, in due time but in reality, it is not owing allegiance to anybody else (Spalding). Once one goes into the fine print of what it is truly said, one can put together that there is a lot to go in for a drastic change like that. Personally, this situation confused me as well since I thought at one point it could have been easy for Trump to remove birthright citizenship. I for one did not realize how much goes into changing, removing or adding an amendment. Not only with that but many people are involved in the process, and it would take many candidates to declare against it and actually follow it.
In 2015, the candidates of the Republican party declared their opposition to birthright citizenship. When Congress noticed their opposition, they brought up the fact again about two cases that were brought up at the end of the nineteenth century which were Elk v. Wilkins and United States v. Wong Kim Ark (Berger 1185). Both different types of cases but still got their messages across about this topic. Elk v. Wilkins was about an American Indian man was born in the United States but was not considered a citizen under the Fourteenth Amendment. In this trial Elk’s case was taken by reformers who wanted to make sure he got something out of it and got him the best attorneys to get his point out there. The main thing Elk wanted Congress to do was to extend citizenship to Indians and for them to received land because of the 1887 Dawes Allotment Act. There was also a need for preparation for Indians to be considered citizens, so they helped justify federal boarding schools and subjection to American law (Berger 1192). Not only that topic was brought up with Elk but also the fact that he needed to go to court to fight for a land that was already theirs, but immigrants came in and called it their own. In the Wong Kim Ark’s case it detailed how Wong Kim.Ark would be coming back and forth between the United States and China because he would see his family in China and work in the United.States became a problem since Congress thought he was just going from one country to another. In reality, Wong Kim Ark was born in the United.States from Chinese descent parents, but it was not tracked for Congress to see it as proof. Also, Wong Kim Ark was a subject of the Emperor of China at the time, so it was even more difficult at that point to have him considered as a citizen (Berger 1223). This case had a lot of backlash for the way it was taken care of by Congress. Not only did Wong Kim Ark had the evidence and the people back him up about who he is,and how he is considered in this country, but they treated him like an alien,and almost sent him back to a country that at this point was not his home like the United States has become at that point. Having these insights, the government recognized that the 14th Amendment needed to stay where it was at (Lee 12). They did not know back then, but these cases would come back to defend birthright citizenship and everything it has to offer.
What the United States have recently dealt with over immigration and citizenship policies has always been a recurring theme and is brought up a lot during debates and interviews with public officials. One of the issues brought up was excluding people born here at birth so that way they would not go grow up with the benefits at the United States and just fix the problem right then and there (Lawrence 139). The problem with going through that plan is the person has documental proof that they were born in the United States because of their birth certificate. With a birth certificate people take that as enough proof to show that someone can live here and be a citizen (Lawrence 142). Looking through many articles, books, and news clips, there are a lot of self-contradictions that are made about the topic which gets a little bit confusing. Government officials want people to leave, and they use the Constitution as proof to back up their opinion but at the same time the Constitution states clearly the contrary of what they say (Kim 758). It would be a long and lengthy process to remove an amendment,and add another and get approval from the Senate for an issue that does not have as much weight as something like healthcare. Both equally important topics but some things need to take more drastic measures and effect than the other.
Some people are not getting the big picture and that is how the United States would really be affected if this were to happen. The country is already divided about how the situation with the migrant caravan is being handled and there is talks about how this is the first move or proof about birthright citizenship seizing down (Leary). Why they are considering the migrant caravan as a way to introduce this topic is because there are pregnant woman coming to the United States, so their children can receive citizenship. Birthright citizenship critics describe this phenomenon as birth tourism since pregnant women enter the states with a touring visa and then during their time, that the visa allows them to stay, they have their child and are credited citizenship (Leary). There is a lot of hate towards families that decide to do this but it is a chance for them to get away from their countries that are not doing so well at the moment. When it is put in a perspective, parents want what is best for their children and do whatever they can for them to live a better life.
In conclusion, birthright citizenship has a lot of different opinions and a big topic to weigh in at this time. People need to be more aware and recognize what it is and what problems it can cause if it changes or gets removed from the Constitution. While constructing this paper, not only did I notice how much people weigh in on this topic, but also how much it has been brought up in the past and the representation it has in other countries. It is understandable that there could be some unfairness as to why people who has family from other countries seek out for citizenship here but it is something they do for their own good. They are seeking out what is best for them and they find it easier to come to the United States and see what they have to offer. The United States try to make it seem that we are the only ones that have a really big problem dealing with this but in reality that is not the case. There are debates in other countries that go through the similar logistics of what goes on in the United States but it is looked more down upon here than anywhere else. People who receive birthright citizenship is something that should not be taken so seriously, but in reality, there are more severe situations that should be taken care of before this.
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