Restrictionist groups and legislators have persisted in their attempts to restrict or repeal birthright citizenship in State Houses and the U.S. Congress. Over the years, several bills have been introduced that would deny U.S. citizenship to children whose parents are in the U.S. illegally or on temporary visas. The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution—the cornerstone of American civil rights—affirms that, with very few exceptions, all persons born in the U.S. are U.S. citizens, regardless of their parents’ citizenship. Following the Civil War and the emancipation of the slaves, the Fourteenth Amendment restated the longstanding principle of birthright citizenship, which had been temporarily erased by the Supreme Court’s “Dred Scott” decision which denied birthright citizenship to the U.S.-born children of slaves. The Supreme Court has consistently upheld birthright citizenship over the years. The following IPC resources present a strong case for maintaining and celebrating our tradition of birthright citizenship—a tradition which is intimately tied to our heritage of civil rights.
For Basic Facts on Birthright Citizenship:
- Read Ending Birthright Citizenship Would Not Stop Illegal Immigration
Made in America: Myths & Facts about Birthright Citizenship
The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution is enshrined in U.S. history as the cornerstone of American civil rights, ensuring due process and equal protection under the law to all persons. Equally important, however, is the Fourteenth Amendment’s affirmation that all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to its jurisdiction are, in fact, U.S. citizens. But the question of who is entitled to U.S. citizenship is most often raised during debates over illegal immigration. While most of the debate turns on the question of who can become a citizen through legalization and naturalization, some groups argue that the way to end illegal immigration is to change the rules of the game by denying citizenship to the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants. Rarely, however, does the immigration advocacy community explore the impact of the birthright citizenship debate as it relates to the Fourteenth Amendment. Thus, the Immigration Policy Center invited respected scholars and authors to provide greater perspective on this perennial issue: