The Corner

There’s More to Birthright Citizenship Than You Think

The debate over birthright citizenship has focused on children born here to illegal aliens. Admittedly, this is a big deal, with more than 300,000 births a year to illegal-immigrants mothers, though I’m on record as skeptical that changing our citizenship rules should be a high-priority objective for immigration hawks.

But there’s a whole other part of the problem — children born here to legal, but temporary, visitors. Not green card holders, who as permanent residents are best seen as candidate-members of the American people and whose children should definitely be citizens at birth. The issue, rather, is about “non-immigrants,” foreigners here temporarily as tourists, students, workers, whatever. In this regard, the issue of birth tourism has gotten attention lately, as has the citizenship status of terrorists like Anwar al-Awlaki and Yaser Esam Hamdi, both born in the U.S. to visitors but raised entirely abroad, who’ve tried to use their nominal citizenship to protect themselves from justice.

But the number of such people never seemed likely to be that large, so what was the big deal? Well, a new CIS report by a pseudonymous government employee with extensive knowledge of such matters estimates that nearly 200,000 people are born each year in the United States to “non-immigrants” — i.e., foreigners here on some kind of temporary status. We have a piece upcoming on possible solutions, many of which wouldn’t require changing our interpretation of the Constitution, but the first decision policymakers face is whether they think it’s a good idea to give away United States citizenship promiscuously to any child born here to a Latvian tourist or Japanese student or a Mexican Border-Crossing Card holder, who then promptly leaves and raises the child in a foreign country.

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

Most Popular

White House

The Trivialization of Impeachment

We have a serious governance problem. Our system is based on separation of powers, because liberty depends on preventing any component of the state from accumulating too much authority -- that’s how tyrants are born. For the system to work, the components have to be able to check each other: The federal and ... Read More
U.S.

‘Texodus’ Bodes Badly for Republicans

‘I am a classically trained engineer," says Representative Will Hurd, a Texas Republican, "and I firmly believe in regression to the mean." Applying a concept from statistics to the randomness of today's politics is problematic. In any case, Hurd, 42, is not waiting for the regression of our politics from the ... Read More
Elections

Put Up or Shut Up on These Accusations, Hillary

Look, one 2016 candidate being prone to wild and baseless accusations is enough. Appearing on Obama campaign manager David Plouffe’s podcast, Hillary Clinton suggested that 2016 Green Party candidate Jill Stein was a “Russian asset,” that Republicans and Russians were promoting the Green Party, and ... Read More
Culture

Feminists Have Turned on Pornography

Since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, the feminist movement has sought to condemn traditional sexual ethics as repressive, misogynistic, and intolerant. As the 2010s come to a close, it might be fair to say that mainstream culture has reached the logical endpoint of this philosophy. Whereas older Americans ... Read More
PC Culture

Defiant Dave Chappelle

When Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special Sticks & Stones came out in August, the overwhelming response from critics was that it was offensive, unacceptable garbage. Inkoo Kang of Slate declared that Chappelle’s “jokes make you wince.” Garrett Martin, in the online magazine Paste, maintained that the ... Read More