If aliens might be admitted indiscriminately to enjoy all the rights of citizens… the Union might itself be endangered by an influx of foreigners hostile to its institutions, ignorant of its powers, and incapable of a due estimate of its privileges.
– Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story. Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States. Volume 3. 1833.
President Obama does not consider it precious. He believes anyone and everyone should be made a citizen. (Especially if they will become low information Democrat voters.) He has largely stopped deporting illegal trespassers, and plans to make them all citizens. Unfortunately for Obama, only Congress can grant citizenship. His pen doesn’t have the ink to do it alone.
The Constitution lists the powers of Congress. It includes the power to naturalize – to grant American citizenship to foreigners.
Article 1. Section 8.
To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization…..
It was understood that those born in America to American parents were citizens. Congress, representing the voters, was to decide who would be allowed to immigrate and be granted citizenship via naturalization.
Modern activist judges have “interpreted” the 14th Amendment to promote a number of their political desires including citizenship. The amendment was intended to address only the issue of newly freed slaves. These people were born in America, but had not been recognized as citizens. The amendment made former slaves citizens.
14th Amendment. Section 1.
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…..
Congress could have simply naturalized the former slaves under Article I. But naturalization can be revoked. Therefore the Amendment insured citizenship was not easily revocable by a future Congress. Congress reasserted its right and constitutional power to legislate naturalization in section 5 of the amendment.
The second criteria of the clause is vitally important. Being born in the US is not sufficient. To be a citizen, the person must also be “subject to the jurisdiction” of the US. It was understood at the time of passage that someone born to a non-citizen in America was NOT a citizen by birth.
The Heritage Foundation provides needed background information on the amendment. Senator Jacob Howard of Ohio, the author of the Citizenship Clause in the amendment stated: “Indians born within the limits of the United States, and who maintain their tribal relations, are not, in the sense of this amendment, born subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.” …. the requirement of “jurisdiction,” understood in the sense of “allegiance,” “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.”
Senator Lyman Trumbull, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, supported Howard, contending that “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” meant “not owing allegiance to anybody else…subject to the complete jurisdiction of the United States.”
The author states the amendment does not grant citizenship to those babies born to non-citizens during the debate of the amendment. Anchor babies are not legal.
It’s a common sense interpretation. In the 1860’s there were no airplanes or options for quick travel across the ocean. An Ambassador’s pregnant wife may have been unable to return to her home nation before giving birth. The baby, born in America, was NOT a US citizen. The same criteria apply today to a woman hiking across the US border and delivering a baby. The Constitution does NOT make them a citizen. Congress can make them citizens, IF it chooses to.
The courts have a specific limited role in America according to the Constitution. The Supreme Court has routinely ignored the limitations placed on it. (Documented in several chapters in the Bible and Constitution Made America Great.)
Article III, Section 2.
The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States….
Note that all judges, especially the Supreme Court, which Article III discusses, are under the Constitution and under the laws passed by the Congress and signed by the President. Judges are to interpret the law. They have no power to write law or to enforce law. Those powers are given to other branches.
The founders began the Constitution with Article I and Congress, the closest branch of government to the people. Next came Article II dealing with the President. Last of the branches was the judiciary in Article III. America has three independent governmental branches, but their importance and power was intended to be in this order.
This is confirmed in Federalist #78 penned by Hamilton: The judiciary has “merely judgment; and must ultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm even for the efficacy of its judgments…. It proves incontestably, that the judiciary is beyond comparison the weakest of the three departments of power;”
The Court was intended to act as a check on the other two branches only if they clearly violated the Constitution.
With respect to citizenship, the Supreme Court overrode the Constitution as well as the other two branches of government. In 1898 the Court ignored the original intent of the 14th Amendment, and usurped power from Congress. IT would now decide citizenship, not Congress. In US v Ark, the court ruled that a Chinese man, born in America to Chinese citizens is a US citizen – even though his Chinese parents had returned to China. Congress had decided NOT to allow Chinese laborers to be granted citizenship – a decision well within its constitutional authority. The Court simply ignored Congress, the law, and the Constitution.
The president chose to accept the Courts ruling. Following presidents have as well. But future presidents do NOT have to. In fact they should enforce the laws Congress passes. That is their constitutional duty.
In 1986 Congress naturalized a number of illegal immigrants with conditions: (1) apply within 18 months; (2) establish that they entered the United States before January 1, 1982. It was considered amnesty for those who had entered illegally.
Those who met the qualifications are now citizens. Any children they had are citizens. Any person who came to the US after 1982 is NOT a citizen. Any children born in America to non-citizens are NOT citizens. This will be true until Congress acts to grant naturalization, if Congress chooses to act.
The last major immigration law by Congress was passed in 1996. Congress did not grant any additional amnesty in this law.
The President’s duty is to follow and enforce US law as created by Congress. This means stopping the inflow of illegal immigrants at the border and deporting those illegals who are reported by communities, or illegals who apply for federal welfare benefits, or break the law in other ways.
There is no amendment needed. The Constitution is clear. Congress has legislated law. Will the next president follow it?
Each presidential candidate should be asked to state their position on citizenship for illegals, amnesty, and their willingness to enforce the law. It appears Donald Trump, Bobby Jindal, and Ted Cruz are willing to lead on enforcing the law on birthright citizenship.
It would be wise for Congress to work with states to implement a foreign worker program (for those states wanting one) where labor-help is needed. This is independent of naturalization.
Scot Wolf is the author of The Bible and Constitution Made America Great By Providing Freedom and Liberty to Citizens, available at Amazon.com, or as a Nook or Kindle eBook. http://www.restorethefoundation.com