Could “birthright citizenship” be taken away from U.S. born children of illegal immigrants or non-resident aliens?

Very recently, one of the candidates running to be the Republican nominee of the 2016 Presidential race – Mr. Donald Trump, had suggested that “birthright citizenship,” or “anchor babies” as he so called, should be illegal in the United States. Of course Mr. Trump has not been the first person to achieve this goal. Mr. Trump and, historically, individuals that had pursued the same idea argued that children of illegal immigrants should inherit their parents’ legal status, thus be excluded from given citizenship at birth. His statement raised a number of concerns, not only for millions of illegal immigrants presently residing in the country, or the children born to illegal immigrants who were given U.S. citizenship at birth, but also to scholars of the U.S. Constitution.

Could “birthright citizenship” really be taken away from children born to illegal immigrants or non-resident aliens in the United States?

While no-one can predict the future, anyone familiar with the United States Constitution can certainly tell you that it will be an uphill battle for Mr. Trump or anyone with the same goal in mind.

As mentioned previously, history had seen others who tried to take away the right to citizenship by birth within the United States. The Supreme Court of the United States had been deciding issues of birthright citizenship since the 18th century. Yet in every one of those cases, it had been decided that “the Fourteenth Amendment affirms the ancient and fundamental rule of citizenship by birth within the territory, in the allegiance and under the protection of the country, including all children here born of resident aliens… the amendment, in clear words and in manifest intent, includes the children born, within the territory of the United States, of all other persons, of whatever race or color, domiciled within the United States.” United States v. Wong Kin Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1989).

Indeed, “birthright citizenship” is a subject governed by the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States, which clearly and affirmatively bestows citizenship upon any person born within United States or its territories. The very first sentence of Section One of the Fourteenth Amendment reads: “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.”

Therefore, the Fourteenth Amendment would have to be repealed or ratified to exclude children born to illegal immigrants or non-resident aliens.

If you need assistance with your immigration matter, contact Kristy Qiu, Esq., a Fort Lauderdale Immigration Attorney, at (954) 282-8296 to discuss your case.