President Donald Trump’s vow to end birthright citizenship in America by executive order has legal scholars and pundits across the political spectrum — the far-right fringe excluded — warning about executive overreach and a legal fight that almost certainly will rule such a move unconstitutional.
Trump calls birthright citizenship a “crazy, lunatic policy” that encourages illegal immigration and has “created an entire industry of birth tourism.” We’re well aware that more than 4 million children born in the U.S. reside with at least one undocumented parent, according to the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute.
Clearly, comprehensive immigration reform is needed, as are more secure borders and more immigration courts to process those seeking asylum and deport those without legitimate claims. But stoking fears of an “invasion” from south of the border and sending 15,000 troops to “reinforce” the U.S.-Mexico border is not a solution.
Earlier this year, the president missed a grand opportunity to trade legal status for young immigrants brought here illegally as children, known as dreamers, for more border security — including funding for his proposed wall.
Whether Trump is doubling down on his pre-election pledge to end birthright citizenship as a way to rile up his base or whether he actually thinks it’s what’s best for America is impossible to say. But one thing is clear, ending birthright citizenship, according to the Migration Policy Institute, increase the existing unauthorized population in the U.S. from 11 million to 16 million by 2050.
In any event, we’re confident the birthright provision of the 14th Amendment, which was upheld in 1898 by the Supreme Court, can only be repealed through a constitutional amendment or act of Congress.
Yet, it occurs to us that Trump, a businessman with no prior experience in government or public service record before becoming president, might not fully understand the importance of the 14th Amendment or its place in American history.
In order to form a more perfect union.
Since the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1788, that phrase from the Preamble has defined the goal of each amendment to our nation’s founding document.
Chief among these was the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery on Dec. 6, 1865. Two and a half years later, understanding that a “new birth of freedom” was not possible if the sons and daughters of slaves and émigrés to America were not awarded the full rights of citizenship, the 14th Amendment was adopted July 9, 1868.
Birthright citizenship wasn’t then — and is not now — unique to the United States. Based on the common-law doctrine of jus soli, or right of the soil, it is the law of the land in Canada, Mexico, Pakistan and most Central and South American countries. Jus soli also is, granted with restrictions, open to the children of legal foreign residents in France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain.
Our 45th president would do well to reflect on the words of our first president, Gen. George Washington, who in 1783 wrote:
“The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respectable Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations And Religions; whom we shall wellcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment.”
— The Dallas Morning News