The Corner

Birthright Citizenship Redux

Yesterday, Rep. Steve King of Iowa introduced a bill to interpret the “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” clause of the 14th amendment to preclude citizenship for children born to illegal aliens. At the same time, a group of state legislators, along with Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach, unveiled an effort to bypass Congress and force the issue into the courts as the result of state action. Though I know and respect all these guys, my opinion remains the same: Citizenship for children of illegals is a problem only because the illegals are here. It’s a symptom, not the problem itself. The solution to the genuine outrage of hundreds of thousands of children born as U.S. citizens each year to illegal aliens is to stop illegal immigration and dramatically reduce legal immigration (which is the catalyst for the illegal kind). The fact that we’re not doing even simple things like requiring the IRS to cooperate with ICE (the IRS sends refunds to hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens) is proof that too many in our political elites have no interest in actually stopping illegal immigration. King and Kobach are certainly not in that category, but too many people who latch onto the citizenship issue (like Lindsey Graham) are.

All that said, the state effort — part of which involves issuing different birth certificates to children not born to citizens or permanent residents — could be useful if it prompts the Supreme Court to actually rule on the issue of birthright citizenship for children born to illegals, something which has never happened. And I’m actually open to reform of our citizenship rules, after we deal with the huge illegal population that’s here and put in place measures to ensure it doesn’t recur. For instance, Australia ended automatic birthright citizenship for children born to illegals (to tourists and the like, I think) but replaced it with a provision that gives them citizenship if they’ve spent the first 10 years of their lives in Australia without getting caught. That way the casual abuse of U.S. citizenship through birth tourism is prevented, and even illegals would have to elude the law for a decade, but you also wouldn’t end up with a multi-generational population of foreigners, like Germany, with all the political problems that would entail.

Mark Krikorian — Mark Krikorian, a nationally recognized expert on immigration issues, has served as Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) since 1995.

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