By: Jaqueline Bautista
Graphics By: Katie Herchenroeder
The fourteenth amendment (1868) states, “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…” Along with the thirteenth and fifteenth amendment, the fourteenth amendment was part of the Reconstruction Era in the United States. It granted slaves who had been emancipated after the American Civil War citizenship and equal legal and civil rights.
On October 30th, President Donald Trump gave an interview with Axios in which he declared his plan to revoke birthright citizenship via an executive order. “We’re the only country in the world where a person comes, has a baby and the baby is essentially a United States citizen for 85 years, with all those benefits. It’s Ridiculous. It has to end,” said Trump.
This is not true; Australia, The United Kingdom, Mexico, Canada, and almost the entirety of the western hemisphere partake in birthright citizenship.
“I work hard and pay all my taxes, and for [Trump] to claim that children of immigrants aren’t citizens – what right does he have to say that? It makes me angry and that’s my pure reaction,” stated Maha Alyas, a junior.
Was this a pre-election scare tactic, or an attempt to inflict fear amongst voters over the migrant caravan? House speaker, Paul Ryan, disapproved of the idea, stating that it would cause “a very lengthy constitutional process.”
The Supreme Court has yet to discuss whether the fourteenth amendment pertains to children of unauthorized immigrants who are born in the U.S., making them citizens. Instead, in the 1985 case INS v. Rios-Pineda, the court made no legal finding, although it declared the two children of a parent facing deportation to be US citizens by birthright.
Thus, the foundation of Trump’s argument is based on the uncertainty of the language of the amendment, “… subject to the jurisdiction thereof…” and who it pertains to.
Andrea Ruiz Diaz, also a junior, pointed out that Trump’s plan to revoke the fourteenth amendment may be an attack on immigrant communities in the United States. Yet, she questioned if he is taking into consideration the Birth Tourism epidemic: a large number of Russian woman coming to the United States to give birth and then go back to Russia, allowing their children to have a US passport and the ability to benefit from American resources.
However, this phenomenon does not seem to be the exploitation of the Fourteenth Amendment that Trump is referring to. Instead, many believe, as stated by Correy Brettschneider, a professor of Political Science at Brown University, that Trump is “seeking to capitalize politically on fear of immigrants.”
The Presidential oath reads: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
His desire to rebuke the fourteenth amendment calls this very oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” into question; who, in this situation, is receiving equal protection under the law?