Birthright citizenship is a somewhat controversial topic in the area of U.S. nationality and immigration law. This term, “birthright citizenship,” refers to the practice of acquiring citizenship automatically due to the circumstances of a person’s birth, as opposed to acquiring citizenship through the process of naturalization. In this post, we’re going to discuss the mechanics of birthright citizenship so that we can shed a bit of light on this topic for our readers. There is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding when it comes to this matter, and so hopefully we can clarify a few things.
- The Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
The basic concept of acquiring citizenship through birth in the U.S. derives from the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This clause basically states that all people born in the U.S. and subject to the jurisdiction (i.e., the legal authority) of the U.S. are regarded as citizens. Numerous court decisions and additional pieces of law have subsequently added to this basic provision of the Fourteenth Amendment. Now, birthright citizenship includes anyone who is born within a U.S. territory, such as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Marianas.
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Children born to foreign diplomats on U.S. soil are not granted automatic citizenship because they don’t fulfill the “subject to U.S. jurisdiction” aspect of birthright citizenship. Originally, Native Americans were excluded from the birthright citizenship concept because of issues involving tribal sovereignty. This exclusion was overturned with the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924. Birthright citizenship is also typically granted to children born to U.S. citizens outside of the boundaries of the U.S.
- Birthright Citizenship Involving Undocumented Parents
One of the controversies involving birthright citizenship has to do with its association with undocumented immigrants. U.S. federal courts have routinely upheld the principle that children born to undocumented parents on American soil should be granted citizenship. Many people have tried to oppose this holding, and have argued that the Fourteenth Amendment should not include those born to undocumented immigrants. There have been efforts to reduce the incidence of births to undocumented parents on U.S. soil. For instance, during the Trump administration, a policy was adopted to reduce the practice of “birth tourism,” which is basically the practice of traveling to the U.S. specifically for the purpose of giving birth on U.S. to acquire citizenship.
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Despite the controversy, birthright citizenship continues to play a major role in the development of the U.S. population. In fact, every year, a substantial percentage of all births in the United States derive from undocumented immigrants. In fact, by some accounts, these births comprise approximately 7% to 8% of all births in the U.S. on an annual basis. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, there are roughly 4.5 million children in the U.S. who have acquired citizenship via birth on U.S. soil to undocumented parents. The majority of births within the U.S. to undocumented parents belong to those from Central American countries, such as Mexico. This fact is part of the reason for the controversy, as birthright citizenship has contributed to tensions between Central American countries and the U.S.
- Contact New Frontier Immigration Law for More Information
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The controversy surrounding birthright citizenship isn’t likely to disappear anytime soon. If you want to learn more about this matter, contact New Frontier Immigration Law for more information. We can help those who’ve acquired citizenship in this way to understand their rights, and the rights of their parents. Give us a call today at 623-742-5400.