Why Birthright Citizenship Matters
Print Friendly and PDF

When I was visiting relatives on the East Coast in August, one of my dearly loved, liberal cousins asked what I thought about the birthright citizenship issue. With a bit of a barb in her voice, she asked how "they" can say that people born in the United States aren't citizens. ("They", of course, are Republicans—which I am not.)

I explained to her that the 14th Amendment states that "All persons born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States. . . ."

She had no idea about the "subject to the jurisdiction" part and it caused her to pause. I said that the words must mean something—or the writers of the amendment would not have put them in there. I asked her if she thought illegal aliens were "subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States. She said no.

She then countered that the United States had always given birthright citizenship and asked why we should change.

I was trying to be gentle because I love her. So I said that we always had segregated schools until 1954, when the Supreme Court decided in Brown v. Board of Education that separate schools were not equal schools.

That really caused a pause. And she paid attention to what else I had to say about the issue.

Birthright citizenship may not rise to the same level of importance as segregation. But VDARE.COM readers know well the negative social, economic and environmental consequences of over-immigration. We need to change the law or its interpretation—or both.

The numbers tell the story.

  • In 1970, in California, 362,652 babies were born—and 11% of the babies had foreign-born mothers.
  • In 1975, 324,949 babies were born in California—and 25% had foreign-born mothers.
  • In 1980, 402,720 babies were born and 29% had foreign-born mothers.
  • In 1990, 611,666 babies were born and 41% had foreign-born mothers.

In California, births to foreign-born mothers reached a peak in 2005 when 47% of the babies born had foreign-born mothers.

(LT Note: all numbers are from California Department of Public Health and have been collected by me since the 90s. The numbers are unpublished and were obtained directly from the state vital statistics personnel. Current numbers are available their website.

The surge in births between 1975 and 1990 was caused, in large part, by illegal immigration from Mexico and Central America. Their children became citizens at birth. And now these babies are all grown up and producing babies of their own.

In 2008, Hispanic births in California accounted for 52% of all births and 57.5% of these Hispanic women were foreign-born. Many of them, and many of their mothers, arrived in the country illegally.

The Texas Department of State Health Services does not post birth statistics by the birthplace of the mothers. But it does post them by ethnicity.

In 1980, there were 79,325 Hispanic births—29 percent of the total (273,433) for the state. In 2007, there were 204,419 Hispanic births—50.1% of the total (407,453) for the state. If we do the math, Hispanic women accounted for 93% of the increased annual births in the state between 1980 and 2007.

The most current national data cause the same concern as do the California and Texas numbers. Many of the Hispanic, birth-mothers arrived illegally and their numbers are huge and growing.

The table below shows birth data for the whole country. The Center for Disease Control publishes annual reports with data collected by hospitals, transmitted to counties, states and then to the federal government.

Change in Annual births by race and ethnicity from 1989 to 2007


All births




Asian/Pac Is

Am Indian


























Source: Births: Final Data 2007, Tables 4 and 5, PDF (final 1997) PDF (final 2007).

Between 1989 and 2007, annual births in the United States increased by 413,221 births. The big swings were: Hispanic births which increased by 530,530 annually and Asian/Pacific Islander births which increased by 121,413 annually. Non-Hispanic white births declined by 216,034 annually. Note that Hispanic births accounted for 128 percent of the added births between 1989 and 2007.

More recently, between 2007 and 1997, annual births increased by 435,339 from 3,880,894 to 4,316,233. Of the increase in annual births, Hispanic births accounted for 353,012 of the total or 81 percent of the increase nationally. Hispanic births are the big driver in increased U.S. births.

The majority of illegal aliens in this country are Hispanic but the Center for Disease Control only collects and reports nativity data for mothers and fathers, not residency status. The table below shows annual births to immigrant women for the period, 1997 through 2007.

First, the conclusion: between 1997 and 2007, foreign-born women accounted for 75% of the increased annual births in the U.S. And as the table shows, most of the increase was births to immigrant, Hispanic women.

 Births to Immigrant Women: 1997 to 2007


All births to immigrants




Asian/Pac Islander

American Indian






















Source: Births: Final Data 1997, Tables 13 & 14 and Births: Final Data 2007, Tables 14 & 15

But, wait, look at American Indians. In 1997, 3.4% of births to American Indians were to foreign-born women and in 2007, 6.7% of American Indian births were to foreign-born, American Indian women.

American Indians are foreign-born? Yes—but these are not Inuits moving from Canada to Alaska. They are most likely indigenous people from Oaxaca and Chiapas, Mexico and Mayans from the Guatemalan Highlands.

 As most of these "American Indians" speak neither Spanish nor English, most are likely illegal residents in the U.S. (and possibly in Mexico too). These are small numbers. But it shows how hard it is to sort out who is here.

Where are these people settling? Using preliminary birth data for 2008 and final data for 1997, the CDC tables show the largest increases in Hispanic births in the following states: Texas, California, Florida, Georgia, Arizona, and North Carolina.

Table 6 of the Preliminary Birth data for 2008 shows state births by race and ethnicity. PDF and 1997 state data can be found in final data for 1997 on table 12. PDF (final 1997);

Readers in Virginia, Colorado, Maryland and Tennessee should check out the numbers—although they can probably see the changes around them.

So how many of these are "anchor babies"? Quien sabe? Who knows? In the September 2010 report from the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR), an article on birthright citizenship estimates that 363,000 births a year, or 8 percent of all births, are to illegal residents.

Eight percent may not seem like a large percentage but remember that in 1970, 11 percent of births in California were to foreign-born women, most of them were Mexican and Central American women, many of them having entered the country illegally. In 2005, as we have seen, 47 percent of births in the state were to foreign-born women.

In 2007, 25 percent of all births in the U.S. were to foreign-born women.

This is a huge problem. Unfortunately, most Americans have no knowledge of these escalating numbers.

Americans also know almost nothing about birthright citizenship. Educating voters will be a big job. For example, the FAIR newsletter I mentioned above says "Currently, any baby born on U.S. territory, with the exception of children of foreign diplomats, is recognized as a U.S. citizen."

No, not true. Here is a link to the CDC website which shows the questionnaire given to new mothers. U.S. STANDARD CERTIFICATE OF LIVE BIRTH PDF From this information, the state issues the birth certificate.

Where does it ask whether a parent is a diplomat? Nowhere. About nativity of parents, the questionnaire only asks the birthplace and date of birth of the mother and the father of the baby. So how would anyone know not to issue a birth certificate for this new baby?

Who checks to see if the parents have filled out the questionnaires truthfully? If the mother says she was born in San Antonio, Texas, and gives a date, does anyone check to see if that is true?

I asked my daughter and son-in-law about this, as they had a baby last year. They said nobody checked anything except what the insurance coverage was (and about that the hospital staff was very thorough).

What a mess!

Some say that we should stop giving citizenship to the children born to illegal aliens because it provides an anchor to stay in this country and anything that encourages illegal aliens not to is stay the right thing to do. This is true.

But the primary reason birthright citizenship should stop is that it is a huge driver of our population growth, and of our rising tide of poor, uneducated residents.


Linda Thom [email her] is a retiree and refugee from California. She formerly worked as an officer for a major bank and as a budget analyst for the County Administrator of Santa Barbara.

Print Friendly and PDF