Time to limit 14th Amendment “anchor baby” language

The summer months of 1967 are recalled by many middle-aged hippies as the “Summer of Love.”  The summer of 2010 may be remembered as the “Summer of Immigration Discontent.”  From Arizona to Nebraska, and in political contests from California to Georgia, immigration debates raged white-hot across the land. 

  •  In Fremont, Nebraska a local, immigration-based law was passed that would require any person, regardless of their immigration status, to register with the local police and obtain a permit before being able to reside in any dwelling within the city limits.
  • In Phoenix, a federal judge granted in large part an injunction sought by the Obama Administration to halt implementation of the state law passed earlier this year, commonly referred to as “S.B. 1070,” that would have significantly enhanced the power of state and local law enforcement authorities to take action against known or suspected illegal aliens.
  • In Georgia’s gubernatorial primary, one Republican candidate endorsed establishing a “Guantanamo Bay of Georgia” to deal with the problem of illegal immigration.
  • Former Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado has called for President Obama to be impeached, because he has abrogated his “duty” to protect the country “from invasion” by illegal immigrants.
  • In Washington, DC, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham has reignited the debate over whether in fact the 14th Amendment to our Constitution automatically grants American citizenship to any baby born within our borders, regardless of whether the parents are in the country legally. 

The Fremont, Nebraska ordinance has been placed on temporary hold, and the Arizona law is now firmly enmeshed within the federal judiciary (which rarely is applauded for acting swiftly).  Still, the visceral reaction by many in this country to the topic of illegal immigration is not likely to die down any time soon; and certainly not before the vote in November.

Politics asides, the fact that at least some aspects of immigration policy are now being teed up for what is hoped will be definitive judicial rulings, is welcome news.  If the Arizona case moves through the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and to the Supreme Court, all 50 states hopefully will have at least some guidance regarding whether and to what extent they can – consistent with principles of federalism – interfere with and enforce federal responsibilities.  And, if the courts take notice of the Fremont, Nebraska ordinance, perhaps municipalities across the country will better understand that infringing civil liberties of all in order to enforce immigration policies against a few, is not a permissible exercise of local government power.

Of special interest, however, as we enter the final month of this summer’s immigration discontent, is the issue of whether the 14th Amendment really does require states and the federal government to recognize as full-fledged citizens of the United States, babies whose only connection with this country is the fact that their mother was in the country unlawfully at the moment of their birth.  Just as the Supreme Court had never, until its Heller decision in 2008, ruled definitively that the Second Amendment in fact recognized an individual right to keep and bear arms, the high Court has never decided the scope or intent of the 14th Amendment’s so called “anchor baby” language.

Perhaps now one or more states will take action directly (through a legal challenge to the 14th Amendment) or indirectly (through passage of a state law to be challenged by the administration) to determine whether this 1868 Amendment, designed to ensure citizenship for former slaves, should continue to be interpreted to force states to recognize as recipients of taxpayer-funded services in their states, children born to foreign mothers not even lawfully in the country.  If this is part of the legacy of the summer of 2010, it will not have been such a bad one after all.

177 comments Add your comment

Karl Marx

August 9th, 2010
6:33 am

Mr. Barr your libertarian buddies will want to tar and feather you after this. They want a one way open boarder into the United States.

Drifter

August 9th, 2010
7:10 am

Only connection with this country is the fact that their mother was in the country unlawfully at the moment of their birth? Not quite. Their mother was seeking out a better life for her and her child(ren), just like all of our ancestors. Unless you are Native American, I can show you someone who believes your ancestors were here illegally too.

Redneck Convert (R--and proud of it)

August 9th, 2010
7:23 am

Well, I say round ‘em up as soon as their moms birth ‘em, put ‘em in the back of our pickemup trucks, give us a little gas money, and dump ‘em over the border. That’s the way to deal with the wetbacks that want to make their babys American citizens.

But lets not stop there. Put border agents at the school house door. Question the kids the minute they step off of the bus. If they ain’t got a True American birth certificate (long form only) or if they show signs of being from librul famblys, into the back of the pickemup trucks they go.

We need to Take Our Country Back. And a good way to start is hauling illegals and librul riff-raff out of it.

Georgian

August 9th, 2010
7:52 am

It is the plain language in the 14th Amendment that clearly states that those born on U.S. soil are u.S. citizens. Period. What about your strict “Constitutionalist Principles”? Hypocrite!

Stasha

August 9th, 2010
8:01 am

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” I really don’t see much wiggle room there and I find it horribly unpatriotic for people to want to repeal a constitutional amendment. How can someone support the repeal while flying a Don’t Tread on Me flag? People’s quickness to relinquish civil liberties due to fear or hatred is disturbing.

Skip

August 9th, 2010
8:13 am

Plug in Muslim for Mexican and tell me how you feel.

Supreme Being

August 9th, 2010
8:19 am

I have 13 cousins that live in South America. They are looking for a better life and thought they would come here. They can’t read or write or speak English and they don’t have any real usable skills. Can any of you nice people give them a job? If not, Maybe they can move in with you while they get settled in because they need a place to live. While you are at it, could you give them some money each morning so they can buy food and clothes. Oh…almost forgot… 4 of them are pregnant, so if you could spare some extra bucks for the babies that would be good too. I know you are probably struggling with your own budget and family expenses, but you see, they are seeking a better way of life and since you all have it so good, maybe you could just reach in your pocket to help them instead of going to the movies next weekend. How about you Drifter, maybe you can step up.

Valerie

August 9th, 2010
8:22 am

It’s not disturbing that people, like myself, would
Like to stop footing the bill for people who can’t go thru the legal channels to get here…. Like ALL laws, there are loopholes. This part of the constitution was not made to allow any and all to come in and remain here without becoming legal citizens. The ones we want gone are the illegals, the ones not paying taxes, the ones using our already taxed out services, the ones who cannot be bothered to learn English. I’m sorry, but if I moved to another country, I would do it legally. I would learn the native language instead of crying foul when others don’t know their language…. I wouldn’t expect to be catered to the way the citizens of my city seem to love to do. I do not in the least bit agree with how the city I live in is conducting itself in regards to illegal immigrants. Then again the douchebags who run this upper Midwest city also welcome squatters, which is a huge slap in the face to those of us who manage to pay our bills no matter how difficult it can be at times.

I’m tired of being walked on and yes, the illegal immigrants walk all over us and so the “don’t tread onme” flags most definitely apply!!!!!!

Lib on a Red Island

August 9th, 2010
8:29 am

Conservatives better be careful here. I heard one of the talking heads say that the authors of the 14th amendment could not have known that it would be so easy to travel to the US when they wrote it therefore the current situation was not their intent. I say you could say the same thing about the right to bear arms. The authors were talking about muskets, not AK-47s. This is a dangerous precedent to set and it could backfire on them when somebody uses the same argument on an issue the like gun control.

Buzz G

August 9th, 2010
8:29 am

If we enforced existing immigration law, there would be no illegals here and we would not have an anchor baby problem. The 14th amendment would not even be a problem.

GB

August 9th, 2010
8:32 am

Georgia and Stasha:

You need to think a bit harder. Re-read the part about “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” and reflect upon its meaning.

And maybe read some more detail on the subject.

http://federalistblog.us/2007/09/revisiting_subject_to_the_jurisdiction.html

And Stasha, you find it “horribly unpatriotic for people to want to repeal a constitutional amendment.” The Constitution has provisions providing for amendments. Amendments can be added and modified or repealed with later amendments. Why is it unpatriotic to make changes in our Constitution in accordance with the terms of the Constitution itself. In 1919 the prohibition amendment was adopted. In 1933 or so it was repealed. Was that unpatriotic?

Finally, go to Mexico illegally, have a baby, and see if that baby is a Mexican citizen. If it is wrong for us to disallow citizenship for anchor babies, isn’t it wrong for other countries?

john k

August 9th, 2010
8:35 am

Finally, go to Mexico illegally, have a baby, and see if that baby is a Mexican citizen. If it is wrong for us to disallow citizenship for anchor babies, isn’t it wrong for other countries?

Our Constitution does not apply to other countries.

Go Jackets

August 9th, 2010
8:39 am

The question for the federal courts is what does the phrase “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” mean. In the legal context, “jurisdiction” can mean many things. In the 14th amendment, the term is not clarified – “jurisdiction” of what? The federal courts? The state courts? The IRS?

Simply being within the borders of the country as the child of an illegal immigrant when born may not necessarily subject you to the “jurisdiction” of the United States in the same way that former slaves were. The language of the 14th amendment was intended to have retroactive effect – the former slaves in many ways were subject to the “jurisdiction” of the United States in much different ways than modern day illegal immigrants.

Swede Atlanta

August 9th, 2010
8:45 am

So Mr. Barr, exactly what are you proposing? Once again you are devoid of any ideas.

Let’s say the 14th Amendment as is (or as you would have it changed but have no proposal) was not in effect when you were born. You grow up here, go to kindergarten, grade and middle school and even graduate high school. But your legal status is unknown? At what point does the little baby born here start the process to determine their legal status?

It seems to me that having been born within the terrority of the U.S. as certified on a birth certificate is the most clear cut way of determining that status.

Until you come up with a proposal for what the change you envision would look like I suggest you keep your ideas (or lack thereof) in your little head.

Meka

August 9th, 2010
8:52 am

Changing the Constitution . . . Republicians are Destructive!

lovelyliz

August 9th, 2010
8:57 am

Time to limit 14th Amendment?!?!?!?!

Not until after they limit the 2nd.

Sick&Tired

August 9th, 2010
8:57 am

These people only care about the Constitution when it benefits them. They want everyone else to follow it to the letter “T”, but want to change it to benefit their views.

Are we going to create a generation of kids who don’t belong to any country? How can you force the mother’s native country to accept them as their citizens? They don’t have to nationalize them since the child was not born on their soil.

This whole change the 14th Amendment thing is just stir crazy.

uga_b

August 9th, 2010
8:57 am

I am a Libertarian as well; however, there is a real intersection between property rights and defense versus free trade of labor inside the immigration debate. If we respect citizenship and borders as property, we should want to defend it. It is also not like the only answer to free trade of labor is illegal immigration.

Port O'John

August 9th, 2010
9:22 am

Let’s see illegal immigration is down, deportation of illegal immigrants is up 30% over the Bush years, crime is down in several major american border towns near Mexico. Sounds more and more like an election year wedge issue. Tired of bashing gays?

I suppose its a GOP/libertarian dream to go around and ask dark-skinned Americans for their papers.

Sure Mexico has laws that would not allow a child of immigrants to claim citizenship; and yes you cannot build a christian church in Saudi Arabia. So lets judge our country based on what they do in Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Iran (hello death penalty), etc.

Is America a great country or what? Sadly, not anymore.

GB

August 9th, 2010
9:22 am

“Finally, go to Mexico illegally, have a baby, and see if that baby is a Mexican citizen. If it is wrong for us to disallow citizenship for anchor babies, isn’t it wrong for other countries?

Our Constitution does not apply to other countries.”

Thanks, John k. But I already knew this.

The Constitution and statutes are not immutable. If we are discussing what is the best policy, if we are discussing possible changes in the law, then it is perfectly reasonable to discuss our laws in context with the laws of other countries. If our laws affect citizens of other countries in certain ways, isn’t it relevant to consider how those countries’ laws affect U S citizens?

ButtHead

August 9th, 2010
9:26 am

Georgian, did you NOT read this article? We have a type of government that if some laws written in the 1700’s seems out dated we can change it, do you understand that, or should we still have laws that say you can’t walk you pig on main street?

YesIndeed

August 9th, 2010
9:27 am

Yep, the constitution clearly says “born on US soil”. And yep, I, like other conservative and libertarian minded people, care about and believe in “Constitutionalist Principles”.

And there is clearly a way to change the constitution, as outlined in the constitution. I believe we SHOULD change it, and get rid of the 16th amendment and 17th amendment while we’re at it.

Which is how a person that believes in a constitutional government should approach changes. Legally.

As opposed to the liberal/progressive/fascist method. Appoint liberal judges who legislate via the bench, and expand federal power way beyond what a normal person believes should be allowed, all in the name of interstate commerce.

joe

August 9th, 2010
9:27 am

liberal elitists are socialists h-bent on damaging our country from within…they are our country’s true enemy, along with their so called organizations like ACLU, unions, SLC, ACORN, etc.

jwr

August 9th, 2010
9:27 am

Swede, you miss the point. The 14th doesn’t need to be changed or eliminated…it just needs to be interpreted by the USSC that it only applies to those born here to people who are in the country legally. If your parents are legal immigrants or citizens, then you are a citizen. Simple, really. I’d go so far as to make the law retroactive to 1868. Besides, there is an easy path to citizenship for any immigrant…2 years of military service.

Tech Buzz

August 9th, 2010
9:30 am

How can the child of an illegal be legal simply by being born here? Isn’t that the same thing as rewarding someone for breaking the law..what’s next a bonus for robbing a bank the robber doesn’t kill anyone?

ga_bulldawg79

August 9th, 2010
9:31 am

@LibonaRedIsland, the 2nd Amendment says “arms” not musket loaders. As been rehashed many times on here the 2nd Amendment is a natural right to defend yourself from criminals and a criminal government, period. Its not a right to hunt because in 1787 they didn’t have a Publix to get food, if you didn’t hunt you starved. The 2nd Amendment wasn’t a right to eat. If you have any dought about the 2nd Amendment read the Federalist Paper’s written by the “Father of the Constitution” James Madison, and the intent of the 2nd Amendment is very clear.
As for the 14th Amendment, it was specifically written for slavery not illegal immigrants. I always say look at the “spirit” or the “intent” of the law vs. exactly how its worded…i.e. what was the purpose of the this law?. what was it trying to accomplish? It was trying to accomplish getting slaves citizenship, not citizenship for babies born here to illegal parents trying to “game” the immigration system in this country. That is the exact reason I don’t like “LIBERAL” interpretations of the Constitution, because they will take how its worded and bend it against the “spirit” or “intent” of the law to fit there needs or agenda. I have no problem with birthright citizenship for people born here to non-citizens that are here legally, i.e. on a visa for vacation or visiting a relative, but not for anyone whose parents tried to bypass our immigration laws.

nelson

August 9th, 2010
9:34 am

In 1994 the range in expense for educating children of illegal aliens went from 87.5 million in Pennsylvania to 1.04 billion in Texas. In California in 1994 there were 74,987 deliveries[births] to illegal immigrant mothers at a cost of 215 million to the state of California.
This met higher taxes for the citizens of California and the illegal immigrants being rewarded for 14th Amendment Law Breakers. Breaking the law by being in the country illegaly

Don't Forget

August 9th, 2010
9:41 am

If the 14th amendment was intended only for former slaves why wasn’t it worded that way?

JR

August 9th, 2010
9:44 am

“Time to limit 14th Amendment?!?!?!?!

Not until after they limit the 2nd.”

Why, genius? What does one have to do with the other?

Sick&Tired

August 9th, 2010
9:44 am

The 14th Amendment was added to grant citizenships to slaves, who were born and brought to the USA. The slaves were certainly NOT “Illegals” during that time period and the law has nothing to do with our current immigration situation today. The only reason the 14th Amendment was necessary was to keep the “Hateful” citizens during that time period from denying ex-slaves certain rights; which they eventually did with Jim Crow and other laws regardless of citizenship granted by the 14th amendment.

The desire to change the 14th amendment is just another hateful tool used by the current hateful citizens in our country. They have already come up with their version of Jim Crow in Arizona and many want to push the same laws in other states.

We are headed backwards and history is doomed to repeat itself.

JR

August 9th, 2010
9:45 am

” These people only care about the Constitution when it benefits them.”

This is the epitome of liberalism. Always accuse your adversaries of the same transgression of which you, yourself are guilty.

Don't Forget

August 9th, 2010
9:45 am

Whatever happened to the flag burining amendment? Oh yeah, that was a bogus issue to whip up the GOP base.

HDB

August 9th, 2010
9:53 am

What this is is nothing but an attempt to make discrimination LEGAL in the US…..and begin a new version of Jim Crow or aparthied!! Let’s ewxamine the question that was previously asked: ““Finally, go to Mexico illegally, have a baby, and see if that baby is a Mexican citizen”….

Technically…..YES…but the child would also have DUAL citizenship……so the child would be legal to apply for a paassport in TWO nations!!

Tech Buzz August 9th, 2010
9:30 am
“How can the child of an illegal be legal simply by being born here?”

Can one ACCURATELY determine when a child is to be born?? Is it the CHILD’S fault for being born?? Here’s another example of certain people decrying the government’s ROLE…but asking for a governmental SOLUTION!! Can’t have it both ways!!

jwr August 9th, 2010
9:27 am
“Simple, really. I’d go so far as to make the law retroactive to 1868.”

Legally, a law can NOT be made retroactively…….

YesIndeed August 9th, 2010
9:27 am
joe August 9th, 2010
9:27 am

SInce you are decrying certain progressive policies…..are you advocating a return to segregation and Jim Crow….or slavery….or not allowing women to vote….or the creation of the National Parks….or the Interstate Highway System?? Are you against organizations that defend the Constitution (i.e., civil LIBERTIES)…or organizations that advocate and defend the working class in this nation (unions)…….

Be careful of what you wish for….you may not like the taste of it!!

HDB

August 9th, 2010
9:55 am

Sick&Tired August 9th, 2010
9:44 am
THANK YOU!! You also can see through the mush that’s being pushed….and where it could lead!!

JR

August 9th, 2010
9:56 am

Here’s an idea. Let’s not do away with the 14th amendment. Let’s strengthen it. Let’s change it to say you’re an American citizen at the time of conception, with all the rights and protections afforded an American citizen. Come on liberals. Surely you won’t have a problem with that.

Fred

August 9th, 2010
9:59 am

Liberals/Progressives/Fascists have such a shallow understanding of history. Too busy reading up about the latest aromatherapy breakthroughs. Or worse, reading that joke of a book, Nickel And Dimed by that azz-clown author. Ever see the Reason interview with her. What a fraud and a charlatan. Like the mindset of just about every progressive.

Limit Time

August 9th, 2010
10:01 am

Great legal argument: just “limit” the parts of the constitution that immigrant-haters don’t like! I’ve got a few provisions I’d like to “limit” also. How can I get that enacted???

JR

August 9th, 2010
10:04 am

Liberals are so predictable. If you don’t agree with them, you’re a racist. It’s 2010. Please update your playbook.

Oh, and let’s not forget. The child may be an American citizen, but the mother is still illegal. And she’s more than welcome to take the child with her when she’s deported.

JR

August 9th, 2010
10:07 am

“Great legal argument: just “limit” the parts of the constitution that immigrant-haters don’t like! I’ve got a few provisions I’d like to “limit” also. How can I get that enacted???”

That’s ILLEGAL immigrant-haters. Get your facts straight. Legal immigrants I like. But I don’t particulary care for anybody who breaks the law. Or their enablers.

Unintended consequences

August 9th, 2010
10:09 am

The Amendment is clear. Sure the intent was obvious, but once conservatives go down that road, they become the judicial activists they so deride liberals for allegedly being.

The makers of the amendment just didn’t see the potential consequences, so either change the amendment, or quit bellyaching about judicial activists, lest you look the fool, even if you are right about the damaging unintended consequences of the law.

Sick&Tired

August 9th, 2010
10:09 am

JR

August 9th, 2010
9:56 am

As long as we include the rights for Gay & Lesbians to “marry” and “adopt” children. That should help with the overflow of children in our already crowded shelters. Healthcare and Welfare must be apart of the amendment, because we don’t want those children to die once they are brought into the world.

Also, let’s give all felons the right to vote regardless of what state they current live in.

Cold hard facts

August 9th, 2010
10:13 am

“Can one ACCURATELY determine when a child is to be born??”

HDB is so right. How can anybody tell when someone is born? Crazy talk, all this talk about “date of birth” and “birthdays” and all that other nonsense. At best you can only narrow it down to a five year window. The rest is just pseudoscience.

Frontman

August 9th, 2010
10:19 am

The choice is not between “Progressive” and Neanderthal. If you are against allowing US citizenship to a child born of a person here illegally, you are not hateful, mean, and otherwise completely reprehensible, so just stop the name-calling. Another alternative available to the states not mentioned here is in amending the Constitution again to “write out” the portion of the 14th amendment which “allows anchor babies”. The amendment’s language could be positive (completely spelling out the requirements for “native-born” citizenship) or negative (prohibiting citizenship for certain circumstances). Considering that the approval of 3/4 of the states is required, I think that would be a better way to achieve the rational than simply supplicating a democratic idea to the whims of the federal judiciary.

JR

August 9th, 2010
10:19 am

I’m not so sure about this overflow of children in shelters, but sure. Whatever’s best for the children. If you’re talking about newborns, there won’t be a shortage of couples to adopt them. And anybody willing to provide a safe, happy home for an orphaned child should be allowed to adopt them. I’m really not sure why gays need to be married to do that, but other than that, OK. And I’m really not sure what felons voting have to do with this.

Tech Buzz

August 9th, 2010
10:24 am

HDB what are you mental ? Here we go again “it not the poor child’s fault” your right take a gold star for the day..its the parents fault for being here illegally why in the name of all that;s holy would you grant citizenship to that child his patents 1) broke the law and 2) broke the law in most cases to cash in on the “my child is a U.S citizen” benefit…again you reward an illegal action. If the parents didn’t break the law we never have the problem. No more rewarding of those that do..period.

Sick&Tired

August 9th, 2010
10:27 am

JR

August 9th, 2010
10:19 am

If you start forcing women to have children they don’t want, there will need to be room at children shelters. A few will be joyful at birth, but others will still not want to be mothers.

And I added felons to the list, just because you were okay with amending the Constitution; so I thought it would be a great opportunity to make a few more citizens happy. I believe that anyone who has to file and pay taxes, should have their rights restored. It’s not like felons can opt out of paying taxes.

Jefferson

August 9th, 2010
10:28 am

It is what it is. There is a procedure to change the constitution, if foolish enough to attempt. This would solve very little of the problem, it just sounds “tough”.

Lib on a Red Island

August 9th, 2010
10:30 am

@ga_bulldawg79 : You completely contradict yourself with your entire argument. You complain about liberals fitting the constitution to their wants and beliefs (right, were the only ones) while doing the exact same thing in your argument on the 2nd and the 14th. You argue intent on the 14th while in the paragraph just before it you argue that we should listen to the exact verbiage on the 2nd.

You say the 2nd ammendment was about “arms” and not muskets. While this may be true the “spirit” of it was not to allow drug dealers to aquire AK-47s to be used during turf wars, which we know is the outcome. If the intent is protection from criminals, why does the NRA and the GOP continually quote it when others try to enact common sense gun laws (ie the gun show loophole) to keep guns out of the hands of criminals?

All I am saying is you can’t have it both ways.

DeadPhish

August 9th, 2010
10:40 am

Karl Marx…what kind of “boarder?” Is this one who rents by the day, week, or what?

Tech Buzz

August 9th, 2010
10:42 am

Lib on a Red Island drug dealers by definition are criminals so they don’t acquire AK-47’s legally so why should any honest citizen have their rights restricted? Criminals are restricted by law from owning firearms restricting honest citizens from their legal rights makes no sense. The second amendment doesn’t address the rights of criminals only those of free men and women.