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Topics Homepage> The U.S. Constitution should permit birthright citizenship > CON side > Arguments 5,6

The U.S. Constitution should permit birthright citizenship

CON

5. Assertion: Ending birthright citizenship would create an underclass in America.

Reasoning: There's nothing symbolic about birthright citizenship. Each year, thousands of Americans are born to undocumented immigrants. Birthright citizenship guarantees that when they grow up, they'll enjoy the same freedoms that the children of American citizens do. Ending birthright citizenship means that, instead, they'll be forced to live underground in the country they call home. This isn't an 'act of symbolic violence against hard-won American ideals of equality.' It's a sacrifice of the actual freedom and equality of actual human beings who will be born on American soil over the coming decade.

Reasoning 2: If a child is born in the United States and then goes back to another country, it may be one thing. But, the vast majority is born in the United States and remains, in effect relinquishing their relationship with - and any prospect for citizenship with - the nation of their parents. Their only national affiliation on earth is to the soil upon which they were born: the United States. Denying them this claim would make them into citizenshipless nomads.

Evidence: Peter Schuck, NYT, August 13, 2010

6. Assertion: There are better ways to fix the problem.

Reasoning: As the vast majority of American citizens gain their citizenship through birthright citizenship, amending the Constitution to create another standard to determine citizenship is legislative overkill and burdensome to the vast majority of American citizens for whom birthright citizenship is uncontroversial. The controversy over illegal immigrants abusing our birthright citizenship rights can be solved through legislative action well short of amending the Constitution. Many eminent scholars and jurists have concluded that it is within the power of Congress to define the scope of the 14th Amendment's Citizenship Clause through legislation and that birthright citizenship for the children of temporary visitors and illegal aliens could likely be abolished by statute without amending the Constitution.

Evidence: According to Dr. Garrett Epps, the author of a treatise on the 14th amendment, to nullify birthright citizenship, either the Supreme Court must undo more than a century of legal precedent, or Congress must pass an amendment altering the citizenship clause. And amending the Constitution for this purpose would be nearly impossible, seeing that a constitutional amendment has to receive the approval of two-thirds of both houses of Congress and then be ratified by three-fourths of the states.