A Toughtful Look at Birth Rights


If you head on over to the National Constitution Center there is an excellent discussion of Birth Rights by Linda Monk. This isn’t a quick sound bite. This is the whole enchilada.

Immigration Numbers:

• For the first time in two decades, the total number of illegal immigrants has dropped significantly, from a high of 12 million in 2007 to 11.1 million in 2009.
• The average annual number of new illegal immigrants fell dramatically, from 850,000 in March 2005 to 300,000 in March 2009.
• Mexico remains the primary source of illegal immigration, with 60 percent; other Latin American nations represent 20 percent; and South and East Asia have 11 percent

Immigration wasn’t always illegal

For much of U.S. history, there were no legal limits on immigration, although rules for naturalization varied. During the colonial era, the English colonies in North America took land from Native Americans by both treaty and conquest, and then sought to attract other European immigrants as settlers. The colonial charters of Virginia and Maryland, for example, allowed government officials to admit and give property rights to “strangers and aliens.” In some colonies, governors and legislators naturalized entire groups of settlers by statute. In 1740 Parliament passed a law that enabled aliens who had lived in the colonies for seven years to become English subjects–if they were not Catholics.

The 14th amendment:

The Constitution “was widely read in the antebellum era as making national citizenship derivative of state citizenship, except in cases
involving the naturalization of immigrants and the regulation of federal territories.” The Fourteenth Amendment nationalized the
definition of citizenship, rather than relying on the states, and it made state citizenship automatic upon residence in that state. Under
the Fourteenth Amendment, all persons “born or naturalized” in the United States and “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” are citizens of both the state in which they reside and the United States. Ratified in 1868, the Fourteenth Amendment was intended to overturn the Dred Scott ruling and protect former slaves, who were not recognized as citizens by Southern states even after the Civil War and emancipation.

Please read the whole piece. It is wonderful, informative and thoughtful.