The Corner

The Only Opinion That Matters about Birthright Citizenship

It’s actually kind of amusing — in a macabre, Goths-approaching-Rome sense — to watch the debate over whether the 14th Amendment does or does not mandate that automatic citizenship be given to children born here to tourists, foreign students, and illegal aliens. Because in this post-rule-of-law stage of our republic’s decay, there’s really only one person in all the land whose opinion matters: Anthony Kennedy. If Justice Kennedy thinks the amendment, and the Wong Kim Ark decision of 1898 (regarding the child of legal residents), applies to them, then a new amendment would be required, which is unlikely. If not, not.

That’s why we might as well pass legislation (or even just take executive action changing State Department and Social Security Administration practice in this regard, since there’s no statutory basis for it), wait for the inevitable lawsuit, and get the issue up to the Supremes as quickly as possible. At least that way, we’ll know one way or the other. Those who claim citizenship for the kids of tourists and illegals is self-evidently mandatory should welcome such a course of action to settle the issue once and for all.

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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