Our VoiceImmigration

Defending the 14th Amendment

Carlos Rich • Aug 16, 2010

14thamendmentThe 14th Amendment is the affirmation that all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to its jurisdiction are, in fact, U.S. citizens. Efforts to dismantle are moving us backwards on American democracy.

It would take us back to a time when all other people, besides those of European descent, were not good enough to be first class citizens or worthy of attaining any status in this country.

I’m sure that after ratifying the amendment in 1866, lawmakers did not intend for it to be overturned.  Advocates for changing the landmark bill are afraid of how immigration will affect the demographics, and are desperate to control the racial composition of the nation.  I’m not an expert in immigration or Constitutional law, but I can give some reason as to why this is happening and why it’s a bad idea.

Opponents want to continue debating the issue of immigration and not actually solve it.  The last couple of years, politicians have dragged their feet on the issue and not done anything meaningful to fix it. Rather, they rant and rave of how immigrants do this and that. Most of their talk is not substantiated by anything but rhetoric.

If politicians in favor of altering the 14th Amendment say that it will solve the issue, then we really should question their motives. According to the Immigration Policy Center, ending birthright citizenship would not stop undocumented immigration: “Since children born to undocumented immigrants would presumably be undocumented, the size of the undocumented populations would actually increase as a result of the new policy.”

If the 14th amendment is altered what will that mean for you and me and those who have citizenship? It will mean that you will have to prove that you lawfully reside in this country. A driver’s license will not suffice, and your birth certificate will not help you.

The Immigration Policy Center’s new report says the burden to average Americans would be significant:

Eliminating birthright citizenship would impose a significant burden on all Americans who would no longer have an easy and inexpensive way to prove their citizenship.

  • If simply being born in the U.S. and having a U.S. birth certificate were not proof of citizenship, Americans would have to navigate complex laws to prove their citizenship.  Other than a birth certificate, most Americans do not have government documents that establish U.S. citizenship.
  • Some Americans would have to prove they derive U.S. citizenship through one or both of their parents – a process that can be difficult for even experienced immigration attorneys.  In some cases, whether one’s parents were married or unmarried at the time of one’s birth makes a difference in determining citizenship. In some cases the gender of the U.S. citizen parent can affect the determination.
  • All American parents—not just immigrants—would have to prove the citizenship of their children through a cumbersome process.

Messing with the constitution is not the best way to change things; it will actually do the opposite.  But these individuals pushing for changes to the 14th Amendment really want to keep immigrants and other persons of color suppressed with limited rights; even if it means changing the constitution.

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