The bad news is we haven't changed the policy. The good news is there's enough talk about it that the LA Times editorial board felt the need to defend the policy. Here are some excerpts from their editorial
The 'birthright citizenship' debateThat is rather outrageous, when you think about it. Even Lindsey Graham realizes there's a problem.
October 26, 2014
Any child born in the United States is automatically a U.S. citizen, even if his or her parents are in the country temporarily or illegally. That long-standing guarantee has given rise to one of the many debates over immigration and citizenship that have confounded Congress in recent years. Some Americans oppose "birthright citizenship," either because they see it as arbitrary and undeserved or because they believe it encourages women to enter the country illegally to give birth. They are horrified that about 4 million children of immigrants living here illegally possess U.S. citizenship.
"People come here to have babies," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in 2010. "They come here to drop a child. It's called 'drop and leave.'"How about attacking the problem on several fronts simultaneously? Even attempts that fail help to educate the public. And there is pending legislation:
Graham has suggested abolishing birthright citizenship through a constitutional amendment; others believe it can be accomplished by federal statute.
Currently pending in Congress is the Birthright Citizenship Act of 2013, introduced by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa). Under that proposal, a child born on U.S. soil would become a citizen only if at least one of his parents was a U.S. citizen or national, a lawful permanent resident or an immigrant serving in the U.S. military.I'd limit it to babies with at least one U.S. citizen parent. But, this legislation is a step in the right direction. So start pestering your representative.
Not all of the critics of birthright citizenship are xenophobes or hysterics.Which is the Times' way of saying that some, maybe most, are.
Nevertheless, the attack on it is ignoble, based on a canard that women are streaming into the United States to bear "anchor babies" who will secure their own — and, with luck, their parents' — residence in this country. The reality is that conferring citizenship on any child born in the United States — regardless of the immigration status of its parents — is an important affirmation that being an American doesn't depend on bloodlines.The editorial goes on and on, I won't quote it all, but it discusses the 14th Amendment and the 1898 Wong Kim Ark case.
The editorial quotes Peter Schuck, professor emeritus of Yale Law School, who " believes that Congress could abolish or modify birthright citizenship for the children of foreigners in the country illegally."
But then the Times asks its Big Question?
But even if Congress could, should it?Of course, the Times says no.
The notion that birthright citizenship is a major magnet for illegal immigration is based on a combination of anecdotes about "maternity tourism" (especially from China) and an exaggeration of the benefits that accrue to the parents of a child born here. Yes, citizens may sponsor their parents' admission to the U.S., but only when the citizen is over 21. In other words, a woman who comes to the U.S. to have a baby must wait two decades for the child to grow up before she herself can be sponsored for admission. It's true that an undocumented parent may be eligible for some benefits for her child, and under current law some unauthorized immigrants with U.S.-born children may qualify for relief from deportation. And of course, parents might want to have a child in the U.S. not out of pure self-interest but because their children will derive benefits from U.S. citizenship. But it is not clear that women decide to enter the U.S. illegally because of these potential advantages (or are even aware of them). It seems unlikely that this is a decisive factor in many cases.I'm not aware that anybody is saying that the anchor baby policy is the ONLY reason illegal alien women enter the country. But it is definitely a part of the entire package. Mexicans sure know about it.
The aforementioned Peter Schuck is against the current anchor baby policy.
Not all critics of birthright citizenship oppose it because of its supposed encouragement of illegal immigration. Schuck, for example, argues that it undermines the notion of citizenship as "a mutual relationship to which both the nation and the individual must consent." He has argued that the Congress that approved the 14th Amendment shared this understanding, which was also reflected in its passage of a law allowing Americans to shed their U.S. or foreign citizenship.But then Schuck is on the fence himself, as he wouldn't totally eliminate birthright citizenship for children of illegal aliens.
Unlike those who would abolish birthright citizenship, Schuck would modify it so that a child born in the U.S. to undocumented parents could obtain it later if he or she developed a "genuine connection" to American society — by remaining in the country and, say, attending U.S. schools. But that proposal goes too far for those who defend birthright citizenship and not far enough for those who want to end it.The Times ends its editorial with its rapturous but vague defense of citizenship for anchor babies.
Birthright citizenship is an emblem of equality and inclusion. Many other countries confer citizenship on the basis of bloodlines, what the law calls jus sanguinis. That makes sense when nationality is conceived of primarily in terms of ancestry or tribe or race or ethnicity. But in America, a nation of immigrants, citizenship is defined differently. That principle was established when the 14th Amendment was adopted, and it should not be tinkered with today in an effort to keep out unwanted immigrants. Indeed, the decision to grant citizenship to everyone born on U.S. soil was made in part so that members of particular minority groups would not be required to win the favor of the majority to claim the privileges of American citizenship.Actually, the 14th Amendment, passed in 1868, was not passed "so that members of particular minority groups would not be required to win the favor of the majority to claim the privileges of American citizenship." It was passed to ensure citizenship for black Americans who had recently been freed from slavery. To make it anything else is to misrepresent history.
The Times' final paragraph:
Birthright citizenship provides a clear standard that sweeps away questions about whether someone has the proper ethnicity or antecedents to be an American. There are too many examples in history of people being victimized because of who their parents were. There is no good reason to add to them.No, the anchor baby policy needs to end, as soon as possible.
Drop a line to the Times, at firstname.lastname@example.org .