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Topics Homepage> The U.S. Constitution should permit birthright citizenship

The U.S. Constitution should permit birthright citizenship

PRO (5 assertions)

No framework

1. Assertion: Birthright citizenship causes too much harm to America.

Reasoning: There is a loss of control over our future. By granting automatic citizenship to everyone, America's survival is limited because it becomes unable to select which aliens are allowed to live within its territory and which will be granted full membership in its political community.

Reasoning 2: As well as losing control of our future, the citizenships given out to illegal aliens (Once again, 10% of births) mean more and more of our children will also be citizens of nations that grant citizenship to their children regardless of birthplace; in many situations, the child's allegiance may be to a country other then the U.S.

Reasoning 3: The U.S.'s job isn't to care for people who break its laws and take advantage of its system. When citizenship is handed out, it comes at a huge price to America; while illegal immigrants benefit. In 1995's fiscal year, more than 200,000 children received aid at a cost of $720 million, as they are instantly eligible for welfare benefits.

Evidence: Numbers USA Action

2. Assertion: Birthright citizenship is unfair to legal immigrants.

Reasoning: According to the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, a total of 300,000 immigration visas are allowed each year. When a person desperately wants to come to America, and must wait in line, or who was born in another country a week or month before coming to America, it seems extremely offensive that they are less deserving of citizenship than the child of someone who came illegally to this country.

Evidence: Peter Schuck. "Birthright of a Nation." New York Times. August 13, 2010

3. Assertion: The U.S. is the only country that allows this detrimental form of citizenship and is lagging behind the rest of the world

Reasoning: Of all advanced economies in the world, only the U.S. and Canada allow birthright citizenship. Add in the fact that Canada has relatively few illegal immigrants, and that makes the U.S. the only nation that freely allows illegals into our country and to suck taxpayer dollars out of our budget. No European country has birthright citizenship either. Only 30 countries in the world grant birthright citizenship, and of them, only 3 are, according to the U.N., industrialized. Increased illegal immigration is the main motivating factor in most countries.

4. Assertion: Birthright citizenship as it is now is outdated and has become a way to abuse our system.

Reasoning: The guarantee of birthright citizenship (to all but the children of foreign diplomats) in the 14th Amendment came about in an era when our borders were wide open and international travel was considerably more difficult. When a family came here, it was a reasonable assumption that they intended to throw down roots and stay. Reasoning 2: The U.S. Constitution never intended for everyone born here to be citizens. The amendment was originally created to give citizenship to former slaves in the 1860s. When this amendment was ratified, there was no concept of illegal immigration; people entering the U.S. were most likely planning on staying here.

Evidence: George F. Will from The Washington Post, March 2010

Assertions #5

CON (6 assertions)


Birthright Citizenship: Automatic citizenship as the way it's practiced in our country today, whereby children who are born in this country of any parents are automatically conferred all the rights of citizenship solely for being born here. Birthright citizenship as it exists today permits anchor babies, who after being born here give their mothers citizenship and can sponsor other family members at the age of 18. This is an abuse of our immigration system; it motivates people to break our law by coming into this country illegally, and shouldn't be permitted by the U.S. Constitution.

Should not Permit: The U.S. Constitution should be re-interpreted or re-defined by our courts to eliminate birthright citizenship. We're arguing that we should do this. This debate will not be decided on the logistics of implementing this, just whether or not we should, based on America's current system.

The Plan

The Aff is proposing that the U.S. Constitution be re-defined to not permit birthright citizenship as it is currently practiced in the United States, where illegal immigrants can abuse the system in order to gain the benefits of citizenship for their child. We're not taking birthright citizenship away from everyone; it will only take it away from those abusing the system. It won't burden the vast majority of Americans for whom birthright citizenship should legitimately be given to. Now, this has already been accomplished in countries such as Germany, Britain, France, Ireland, and Australia and has yielded successful results. Now, my opponents may say that this is just birthright citizenship, but actually, according to the United Nations, this form of modified-birthright-citizenship is not classified as birthright citizenship. So, unless my opponents want to fly to New York and challenge the U.N.'s definition of birthright citizenship, then our plan and definitions shall stand.

Unless our opponents can prove from a fundamental and moral aspect that the U.S. Constitution should allow people who've already broken our laws to continue abusing our immigration system with anchor babies, then we shall clearly win this debate through our arguments and our plan to remedy the abuse.

However, as additional points, I will explain in more depth the problem with our current application of birthright citizenship and allow you to clearly see how our plan will fix this.

1. Assertion: Without citizenship, a generation will grow without respect for laws.

Reasoning: Revoking birthright citizenship by changing the 14th amendment would create a group of stateless human beings. Remember, the country of origin of the parents is under no obligation to extend citizenship to babies born in the U.S. This would render these children stateless refugees, or people with out rights, much like the way Germany treated Jews during WWII and Americans treated Japanese during the same period. The birthright immigration doctrine has served our nation well. We make sure that we don't have second and third generation, marginalized immigrants, as Germany does. The fact that some other industrialized countries permit generation after generation of marginalized immigrants and we don't is what makes the U.S. exceptional. (2011 Washington post)

Evidence: The Denver Post Editorial. August 13th, 2010, which reads "In countries like Japan, which for decades didn't recognize as citizens Korean immigrants who toiled there, children of immigrants struggled with second-class status in school and society in ways that led to significant problems. It's easy to see why. A child born into a land that then refuses to accept or recognize him as one of its own is a child without a country. And when a child's home country won't accept his right to be there, it undermines that individual's loyalty to its laws and mores."

2. Assertion: Ending birthright citizenship will cause more problems then it will solve.

Reasoning: The only reason that this is an issue is so that, not to sound biased, but so that the Republican party can tap into the anti-immigrant vote. Alvaro Huerta of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles stated, "This is red meat for conservatives. They throw out these issues they know aren't winning issues, and they create an environment of anti-immigrant sentiment. We need to do better job of educating people why it's wrong." Following up upon this point stated in an article, we can just look throughout history and realize that any anti-birthright legislation would rely heavily on a xenophobic outlook. During the 90s with the Chinese, 40s, with the Japanese, and modern era with Mexicans, anti-immigrationists have used anti-whatever country sentiment to rally against their citizenship. Their arguments revealed a fundamental motivation of white supremacy, and the ACLU and NAACP recognized the implications. While today racial equality is widely accepted, and public anxieties about immigration no longer center on Asians, it is worth remembering why the principle of birthright citizenship is valuable and the consequences of abolishing it unpredictable.

Reasoning 2: I doubt that denying birthright citizenship would do anything to lessen opposition to legal temporary immigration from Mexico; rather, I think it would chiefly serve to deny citizenship to a lot of kids.

Evidence: "The Case for Birthright Citizenship," The Wall Street Journal, August 11, 2010

3. Assertion: Amending the Constitution wouldn't have a beneficial enough effect to change it.

Reasoning: Now, we do agree that we have an illegal alien problem, but we need to address the problem of undocumented aliens by offering a pathway to legal residency, by reducing economic disparities with southern countries, and by doing more to control our border, not eliminating birthright citizenship. But denying citizenship to children born in the U.S., especially those of legal, economically contributing citizens, isn't a rational solution, especially when there are literally millions of legitimate children being born per year (2005 census, 4 mil. births) that deserve birthright citizenship. Disallowing birthright citizenship may stop a few thousand illegals from crossing the border every year, but this is to the detriment of millions of legitimate children across the country. Clearly, more people will be harmed by this legislation than helped.

Evidence: There are over 4 million births from U.S. citizens every year compared to only around 200,000 illegal immigrant births every year. Clearly, eliminating birthright citizenship will harm millions more than it will help.

4. Assertion: Ending birthright citizenship wouldn’t have a drastic effect on immigration levels.

Reasoning: The real incentive for illegal is the increased level of economic opportunity available in America. It's probably true that birthright citizenship provides an incentive for some illegal immigration- although not as much as some critics allege. By far the dominant reason for illegal entries remains economic, the universal urge of humans to improve their lives.

Reasoning 2: My opponents would have America end up with a lot of resentful, displaced young people who are permanently differentiated through the education system and feel they have no stake in their countries of birth, but have never known anyplace else and have nowhere to "return" to. Estimations at the fall of illegal immigrant births are expected to fall from 8-7% in response to the banning of birthright citizenship. Is that worth the displacement of 7% and stripping of Constitution-guaranteed citizenship for 90+% of our population?

Evidence:, The Denver Post Editorial, and the Chicago Tribune (Aug. 2010) Immigration studies by the Pew Hispanic Center and Douglas Massey of the Mexican Migration Project have demonstrated that the drivers for immigration are jobs and family reunification. In fact, roughly 80 percent of immigrant mothers in 2008-2009 had been in the U.S. since 2005, and 90-95 percent were here over a year before having a child. Moreover, a child cannot under federal immigration law help a father attain citizenship until that child is 21 years old. In sum, pregnant women are not stumbling over the Rio Grande en masse in search of the closest obstetrics wing.

Assertions #5, 6