Does the 14th amendment automatically grant citizenship to anyone born in this country? That is the current policy of this government, but a number of constitutional scholars disagree. I have written about this in the past and want to focus on it again. But I also have noted that a number of conservative lawyers who have been on my radio program accept the government’s policy. If you think the policy should be changed, I would recommend you start by convincing fellow conservatives and constitutionalists.
Michael Anton (Hillsdale College lecturer) writes in the Washington Post that citizenship should not be a birthright. He says, “The notion that simply being born within the geographical limits of the United States automatically confers US citizenship is an absurdity — historically, constitutionally, philosophically and practically.”
The purpose of the 14thamendment was to resolve the question of citizenship of freed slaves. Essentially, it was needed to overturn the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision. “Second, the amendment specifies two criteria for American citizenship: birth or naturalization (lawful immigration) and being subject to US jurisdiction.”
It is that second point that has been used to justify birthright citizenship. Government officials argued that “subject to the jurisdiction” simply means they are “subject to American law.” Therefore, you can argue that a tourist is subject to the laws of America while in the country. That appears to be a misreading of the amendment.
Michael Anton says that the problem can be fixed if Congress would clarify legislatively that children of noncitizens are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and thus not citizens under the 14thAmendment. Although that may be true, he needs to start by convincing his fellow conservatives that such a change needs to be made.