The U.S. should eliminate birther rights

Illustration by Gabriella Backus

Illustration by Gabriella Backus

Bailey Kirkeby, Managing Editor

On Oct. 30, 2018, President Trump revealed plans to sign an executive order that would end birthright citizenship to children born in the United States to immigrant parents that are in the country illegally. While his order has been attacked by immigration experts and citizens alike as “unconstitutional” and “xenophobic,” Trump is not entirely misguided.

“Yes. They were born here on U.S. soil. It doesn’t matter if their parents weren’t born here.” – Junior Samantha Huerta

The 14th Amendment to the Constitution states that “[a]ll persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof” are U.S. citizens. Conveniently, advocates of birthright citizenship ignore the phrase “subject to the jurisdiction” or interpret it to mean that any person present in the United States has “subjected” himself “to the jurisdiction” of the country — an interpretation that is simply not true.

Under this interpretation, every person born on U.S. soil is granted citizenship, including the children of temporary visitors, such as tourists, students and guest workers. In fact, NBC News reports that more than 40,000 children are born in the U.S. to women in the country on a travel visa each year.

“If trump takes away the birther rights, he’s taking away the chance for children born in the U.S. from immigrant parents to be teachers or engineers. If you’re born here, you’re a citizen. No one should be able to take that way from you.” – Sophomore Isaac Barney

The meaning of this phrase does not need to be speculated; Senator Lyman Trumbull, a key figure in the adoption of the 14th Amendment, stated that “subject to the jurisdiction” means an individual must not owe allegiance to another country. Legally, children born in the U.S. to illegal aliens are citizens of their parents’ home country; therefore, they owe allegiance to that country.

According to The Atlantic, more than 30 countries — most of them in the Western Hemisphere — allow birthright citizenship similar to that of the U.S., such as Canada, Argentina and Brazil. However, many countries, such as China, Japan and Russia, grant citizenship based on whether the baby has at least one parent who is a citizen of the country they are born in.

Although Trump’s plan to end birthright citizenship is actually constitutional, many have still attacked his order as “xenophobic,” such as Washington Post writer Greg Sargent.

“Yes. The kids themselves are an individual. You can’t just tag along with the parent. They are themselves and if they were born here, then that’s their original birthplace.” – Sophomore Princess Beron

“What’s particularly galling is that this [order] comes even as Trump’s race-baiting, xenophobia and incitement of hate are doing serious damage to the country,” Sargent wrote in his article titled “Don’t Fall for Trump’s Desperate, Race-baiting Birthright Citizenship Stunt.”

And I agree. Trump has made a number of questionable decisions with undertones of racism, homophobia and xenophobia alike. But we cannot disregard every plan he makes because of our personal distaste for his prior, bigoted decisions — especially when, despite his intentions, rebuking citizenship for children of illegal aliens is moving the country towards a more faithful enforcement of the Constitution as it was written.