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Birthright Debate May Educate Trump on Limits of Power

06 November 2018

TRUMP: Now how ridiculous, we're the only country in the world where a person comes in, has a baby and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years with all of those benefits.

Meant to prohibit the creation of a permanent class of resident aliens with no devotion to the US or rights of citizenship, the birthright-citizenship provision of the amendment reads: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside". They are subject to our jurisdiction, but do everything they can to evade it, and aren't fully subject to it - it wouldn't make any sense, for instance, to try an illegal immigrant for treason.

The short answer is yes.

The vast majority of the 32-page complaint similarly seeks to castigate the commander-in-chief instead of laying out a legal basis for Honduran citizens to sue our government under the U.S. Constitution.

Graham scathingly condemned the Democratic Party's attempts to derail the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh last month, and has embraced the president's fondness for wading into America's culture wars with headline-grabbing soundbites.

Rather, they primarily fear - quite sensibly - that immediately granting citizenship to the children of people who came here illegally serves as a magnet, or at least a reward, for crossing our borders without authorization. "We have a right and responsibility to protect our nation", Grossman said. His family separation policy was met with intense opposition from both sides of the aisle and his executive order seeking to restrict immigration and travel to the USA was upheld on the third try after federal courts blocked the first two versions. Their desires and decisions would be the same even if birthright citizenship were eliminated.

It was unclear whether he knew what he was doing in this case. If foreign diplomats are not producing Americans, why should we assume that non-diplomats (who are citizens of other countries living in the USA) are giving birth to American citizens?

Just in case there was any question, in 1898 the Supreme Court - at the time no friend of racialised minority populations - affirmed the citizenship of Wong Kim Ark, a man born to Chinese parents in San Francisco in 1873. The case of Plyler v. Doe 457 US 202 (1982) did. Some point to the 14th Amendment to bolster their argument.

At issue was a Texas statute that withheld funding for the education of the children of illegal immigrants, with Texas arguing that the illegals weren't technically "within the jurisdiction" of the United States.

If Trump is successful in this, he would be going against the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Petitioners would be forced to add the names of their US-born children too, on all extension of visa or change in status applications, which will bring in millions of dollars of extra revenue in additional paperwork.

That marked the end of segregation. It would require a constitutional amendment.

Given this judicial philosophy, they're unlikely to unwind the clock 120 years. Second, even if unilateral executive reinterpretation of the Constitution is a bridge too far for Republican officeholders, Trump's order could reshape the policy agenda on immigration.

Sarah Sanders also tells us, "There are a number of legal scholars who certainly think he can". But when the mothers are citizens of other countries (say England, Germany, Syria, or Russia) then all of their children should automatically become citizens of those same countries upon birth --without regard to the geographical locations of these births.

Yet the gaps between Asian and white Americans, and Hispanic and African-Americans - in income and wealth, crime rates and incarceration rates, test scores and academic achievements - are dramatic and are seemingly enduring.

Birthright Debate May Educate Trump on Limits of Power