Memo From Middle America (Formerly Known As Memo From Mexico) | Birthright Citizenship—How Some Other Countries Handle It
February 28, 2011, 04:00 AM
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As Americans, we can learn a lot from other countries.

Don't get me wrong—I firmly believe in American sovereignty. We ought to base our laws on our own Constitution and legal tradition.

However, we can still benefit from the examples, both positive and negative, set by other countries.

For example, we can learn a lot from Mexico about how to conduct a patriotic immigration policy and how to manage voter registration. (See Learning About Immigration Policy from Mexico and Why is Mexico's Voter Registration System Better Than Ours?)

So what about automatic birthright citizenship? That's the policy which grants automatic citizenship to children born to illegal aliens on U.S. soil.

Under current practice, an illegal alien woman can cross the border, give birth to a baby five minutes later—and that baby is a U.S. citizen. That allows hundreds of thousands of "anchor babies" born to illegal alien mothers to be awarded automatic citizenship. It's insane.

Reforming this practice is something we need to do as soon as possible.

It looks to be a tough fight. But, on the plus side, more and more Americans are becoming aware of the situation and don´t agree with it. Attempts at reform are occurring at both state and federal levels.

And there are several solid arguments we can employ against automatic birthright citizenship for children of illegal aliens.

Constitutionally, the practice deviates from the original intent of the Fourteenth Amendment. (See Howard Sutherland's Weigh Anchor! Enforce the Citizenship Clause).

Automatic birthright citizenship as practiced in the U.S. is well known in Mexico and in other countries that are taking advantage of us. The anchor baby loophole makes it hard to deport illegal aliens and encourages more illegal immigration.

As I've pointed out in a previous article, under Mexican law all children born to Mexicans in the United States are considered Mexicans. By granting those same babies automatic U.S. citizenship, we are multiplying the dual citizen population—which has the potential for more balkanization in the future. (See How Mexican Law Undercuts "Anchor Baby" Interpretation of 14th Amendment).

So how do other countries handle this problem? Can we learn from them?

Yes, we can. In fact, most countries in the world don't have such a self-destructive policy.

According to legal policy analyst Jon Feere of the Center for Immigration Studies in Birthright Citizenship in the United States: A Global Comparison [August 2010]:

"The United States is one of the few countries on the globe to recognize universal and automatic citizenship for children born to illegal and temporary immigrants. The overwhelming majority of the world's countries do not have such a birthright policy. Out of the world's 194 countries, the Center for Immigration Studies can confirm that only 30 countries grant automatic birthright citizenship. This research has been the result of direct communication with foreign government officials and analysis of relevant foreign law including statutory and constitutional law." [links added]

Feere checked out every country in the world. There were 19 countries where he was unable to confirm whether they practice birthright citizenship or not. But these countries aren't big immigrant-receiving countries (Azerbaijan, Botswana, Zambia) and may not even have a clear policy on the matter.

All of the 30 countries with automatic birthright citizenship are in the Western Hemisphere. See map.

That's interesting.

The Mexican Constitution (Capitulo II, Articulo 30 pdf., on p.26 of 170) actually stipulates that any baby born in Mexican territory, regardless of parentage, is Mexican. Legally, that's automatic birthright citizenship.

But, as I explained in my article My Two Sons and the National Question, my sons David and Raphael were both born in Mexico and have documentation from both countries. Our family's experience revealed something about how this matter is really dealt with in Mexico.

Each baby boy's Mexican birth certificate was issued to my wife and myself by a Mexican registrar. But since I was a foreigner, the registrar required me to show her my Mexican work permit in order to process the paperwork.

I had to prove I was in Mexico legally each time, for each son to have a Mexican birth certificate!

And, when Raphael was born this process was delayed. My work permit was being renewed for the year, so it was temporarily out of my possession. The registrar would not issue the birth certificate until I had showed her my work permit. So it took us several more weeks to obtain it.

This indicates that Mexico, although theoretically offering automatic birth citizenship to children of illegal aliens, has in practice a way of getting around it. It can just refuse to issue birth certificates if one or both parents are not in the country legally! How very clever!

Three Caribbean countries, Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, do not have legal automatic birthright citizenship.

It's worth pointing out that Haiti and the Dominican Republic share the island of Hispaniola and thus have a land border. Most of the illegal immigration on the island goes from Haiti to the Dominican Republic.

But rather than facilitate illegal immigration, as our government does, the Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic has an active governmental policy to combat illegal Haitian immigration.

For one thing, the Constitution of the Dominican Republic explicitly excludes children born to illegal aliens from automatic birthright citizenship. [Constitución Política de la República Dominicana Capítulo V, Sección I, Artículo 18 (page 6)]

How about that? Shouldn't we follow the example of this Caribbean country that protects its sovereignty?

Next let's consider the European example.

It's significant to note that not one country in Europe practices automatic birthright citizenship like the United States does.

Let's see just a few examples.

  • In France, a child born to foreign parents may be granted citizenship under certain conditions, including residency and attaining a majority of age. But it's not automatic.
  • In Germany children born to foreigners may be citizens if at least one parent has been a legal resident for at least three years and who has resided in the country for eight years. So no crossing the border and giving birth five minutes later to get birthright citizenship for the baby!
  • A foreign baby born in Spain can only be a "natural-born Spaniard" (nacionalidad española de origen) if one of his parents was born in Spain (!); or if his parents were stateless; or if the baby would be considered stateless by his parents' home country. (By the way, an immigrant can apply for Spanish citizenship after residing in the country for ten years—but for immigrants from Latin America, it's only two years. Why don't we have a similar preference for immigrants from the English-speaking world?).

Various European countries still have their particularities in citizenship law—but not a one of them permits automatic birthright citizenship to children of illegal aliens, with no conditions whatsoever, as we do.

That's very interesting.

Some people want the United States to become more like Europe. What do they mean by this? I think what they mean is they want us to be more socialistic, adopt the metric system and enjoy professional soccer.

But why not be more like Europe in nationality law—like not allowing automatic birthright citizenship? That's an area in which becoming more like Europe would definitely be an improvement!

What about the Anglosphere?

In other English-speaking countries with whom we share a common legal heritage, the recent trend is to restrict birthright citizenship. In the UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, automatic birthright citizenship for children of illegal aliens has been abolished. The baby needs at least one parent who is a citizen or legal permanent resident.

Ireland, by the way, actually had a referendum in 2004 with 79.17% voting to reject automatic birthright citizenship. [Ireland Votes to End Birth Right BBC News, June 13, 2004]

The UK reform took effect in 1983, Australia's in 1986 and New Zealand changed its law in 2006.

Note that these countries had a problem with anchor babies—so they fixed it. It can be done.

However, Canada and the U.S. continue with their insane automatic birth citizenship policies. These two suicidal neighbors are the only First World/Developed countries on the planet that grant automatic birthright citizenship.

Now, if a country has low levels of immigration, it could afford to have a very lax birthright citizenship law. It would be irrelevant.

But the U.S. and Canada both have high levels of immigration in proportion to their respective populations.

That means that both countries are asking for trouble by granting automatic citizenship at birth for everybody who can get in.

In today's inter-connected world, with relatively easy transportation and communication, it's much harder to get immigrants to assimilate.

At least Canada's only land border is with the U.S. Our main source of immigration (legal and illegal) is Mexico. The Mexican government has an active policy of manipulating our laws against us and competing for the loyalty of Mexican-Americans.

Other countries similarly take advantage of our immigration policies.

Anchor babies are part of the drastic demographic transformation that is helping to change the old U.S.A. into a radically different society.

Let's follow some good examples. Abolish automatic birthright citizenship now!

American citizen Allan Wall (email him) recently moved back to the U.S.A. after many years residing in Mexico. In 2005, Allan served a tour of duty in Iraq with the Texas Army National Guard. His VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his Mexidata.info articles are archived here; his News With Views columns are archived here; and his website is here.