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ESSAY: Time to end American citizenship via 'birth tourism'

By Dr. Harold Pease

Nov. 21, 2018
       Birth tourism, presently running rampart in the United States, is where foreigners intentionally coordinate their delivery dates with tourism, ensuring that the birth happens while in this country. They remain the weeks necessary for the new birth certificate to be used to generate a passport for their newborn.
       Maternal centers - some sleazy, others high end - have been created to accommodate the wait. These are lucrative businesses (perhaps $50,000 per birth), primarily encouraging "clients" from China, Russia, Turkey, Taiwan and Mexico. Their "tour" ends with
Dr. Harold Pease
Courtesy photo
a child who has birthright citizenship (in addition to citizenship in his/her parents' country) and a passport, after only a few weeks invested in the United States.
       Why is this option worth the expense for people from foreign countries? Mart Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, shared four reasons:
       1. If things go bad in the home country, at least American-birthright children can get out.
       2. When they become adults, they can sponsor their parents for immigration - kind of a "retirement program,” with benefits.
       3. Such children get cheaper tuition in American colleges, as foreign students typically have to pay more than U.S. citizens.
       4. If there is a military draft in the home countries of birthright children, they can avoid it by moving to America.
       ... All of this from their parents having taken a visit to the U.S. while having a baby ("The Ingraham Angle," Fox News, Oct. 30, 2018).
       For decades, U.S. judges have identified a "right" to birthright citizenship in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. But most constitutional experts know that is incorrect. LibertyUnderFire and others have made this case for many years.
       Most people have sympathy for those who were infants or born here when their parents illegally crossed the border and have lived here all their lives and know no other country.
       A quick read of the 14th Amendment would seem to validate such sympathy: “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.”
       A more careful read, however, shows that birthright citizenship was specifically and purposely denied, not supported, when Congress approved the 14th Amendment in 1868. Key to that intent is the phrase, “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.”
       The purpose of the Amendment was to guarantee citizenship to freed slaves (already residents) and their descendants after the Civil War. It had nothing to do with immigration. Residents were already subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.
       Proof of this can be found in the words of Michigan Senator Jacob Merritt Howard, the Amendment's architect. An abolitionist, he had previously helped
Senator Jacob Howard, who helped start the Republican Party in the 1850s, wrote the text of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, intended to underline that the freed slaves were American citizens.
Mathew Brady photo (Library of Congress)
create the Republican Party that elected Abraham Lincoln as its first president.
       Howard actually structured the Amendment (one of two defining the legal status of freed slaves after the Civil War - the other being the 13th which gave them freedom) to prevent that very interpretation.
       This is what Howard said: “This amendment which I have offered is simply declaratory of what I regard as the law of the land already, that every person born within the limits of the United States, and [already] subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States. This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons.”
       It was he who insisted that the qualifying phrase, “subject to the jurisdiction thereof,” be inserted.
       Notice also the exclusion of babies born of ambassadors while here. If diplomats of high honor are specifically exempted from birthright citizenship, mere tourists, without any specific distinction, certainly would not have it. They not only have jurisdiction or allegiance elsewhere, but are specifically identified as ineligible and thus cannot have birthright citizenship. Those crossing our borders illegally are clearly foreigners, not residents. As such, they are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and thus are specifically exempt from citizenship.
       There is no such thing as automatic citizenship from this amendment without serious distortion of it. In fact, Lyman Trumbull, co-author of the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery, addressing the definition of the phrase “subject to the jurisdiction thereof,” rhetorically asked, “What do we mean by complete jurisdiction thereof? Not owing allegiance to anybody else. That is what it means.”
       Those crossing our borders illegally have jurisdiction or allegiance elsewhere and thus cannot have birthright citizenship. How can a child of such a parentage have what his parents clearly do not have?
       How many babies are born illegally in the United States per year? Statistics are difficult to validate, but the Pew Hispanic Center study estimated 340,000 in 2008 alone, and recent research has doubled illegal entry from 11 to 22 million, so births from illegals are also presumed double.
       The Center for Immigration Studies has estimated the annual cost of assistance - primarily healthcare, education and food stamps - at $2.4 billion, and that was based upon the 11 million number.
       Citizenship was denied Native Americans until the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, because until then they were perceived under American law as owing allegiance to their respective Indian nations. Certainly one must cease to be at war or conflict with the conquering country to be a citizen of it. So just being on U.S. soil did not make them citizens automatically until the “jurisdiction thereof” part of the 14th Amendment was satisfied.
       Many of our Mexican friends send portions of their pay checks home to Mexico and plan to return to their native land upon retirement with pensions and/or social security sent to their “first” country from the country they extracted their wealth - the United States. Some vote in Mexican elections from here. It is indeed hard to argue that they are not instead subject to the jurisdiction of another land other than the United States - and most admit it.
       Again, the 14th Amendment specifically denies birthright citizenship, and this should be made clear by a statute solution through Congress.

       Dr. Pease is a specialist on the United States Constitution and its application to current events. He has taught history and political science for more than 25 years at Taft College. This column was edited for publication in the Westside Pioneer. To read more of his articles, go to libertyunderfire.org.

(Opinion: General)

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