A Bold Remedy to a Grave Threat: Because the 14th Amendment's Original Intent Has Been Ignored and the Amendment Has Been Used to Grant Citizenship to the Children of Illegal Immigrants, Congress Needs to Clarify the Meaning of the Amendment's Language

Article excerpt

Drafters of constitutional texts, be they members of the constitutional convention in 1787 or members of Congress who craft a constitutional amendment, cannot always foresee all of the nuances of governmental mismanagement and malfeasance that may follow their creations. Examples abound, especially with the 14th Amendment. It was ratified in 1868 as a post-Civil War remedy, to secure rights and protections for American citizens freed by the 13th Amendment from the scourge of slavery.

The purpose of the 13th and 14th Amendments was limited to securing these rights. Nothing appears from the events surrounding their drafting and ratification to suggest any general intent to extend citizenship to someone born in America to parents who are here illegally. Nevertheless, that is exactly what has happened at the hands of an over-zealous Supreme Court, which has promoted its own skewed social agenda over a period of decades. Consequently, in defiance of common sense and original intent, any of the between 10 and 20 million illegal immigrants in this country can have a baby who is then deemed an American citizen. These babies are called "anchor babies" because the babies' family members are not liable to be deported based on the premise that deporting family members would impose an undue hardship on the infant-citizens. Many are taking advantage of this legal loophole, and in the process, are doing much to run up our national debt. The Center for Immigration Studies says that just between the years 1997 and 2001 "immigration ... increased the number of uninsured children in the United States by 700,000." The children born in these years alone cost the U.S. about $4 billion a year in Medicaid payments. And those payments are only the tip of the social welfare iceberg. This situation needs to stop.

Ignoring the Intent

The 14th Amendment provides, in part:

Section 1. 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.

Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

In the recent past, judicial decisions have ignored the intent of the 14th Amendment and have subverted Section 1 of it to give citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants, encouraging mass violation of our borders and leading to subsequent huge outlays of money not only for welfare but for healthcare and tax subsidies. Also, policies of both Democrat and Republican administrations have not only ignored enforcement of immigration laws, they have actually encouraged their violation. NAFTA and CAFTA treaties, regional "free trade" agreements, have been drafted to further undermine our borders and to promote free entry into the United States by illegal aliens without any regulation or tracking. President Bush has repeatedly nurtured the promise of more amnesty, and eventual citizenship, for those who flaunt our laws and enter illegally.

In the face of these abuses of power, Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) and 45 cosponsors have introduced bill H.R. 698, entitled the "Citizenship Reform Act of 2005." It declares: "It is the purpose of this Act to deny automatic citizenship at birth to children born in the United States to parents who are not citizens or permanent resident aliens." The bill undertakes to define "subject to the jurisdiction of the United States" as that term was first used in the 14th Amendment. And clearly a bill that clarifies the meaning of the 14th Amendment is justified under the law.

First, Section 5 of the 14th Amendment specifically authorized Congress to enforce the provisions of the amendment using "appropriate legislation." Second, the Supreme Court has ruled that the 14th Amendment's broad-sounding language, which seems to make any newborn who is subject to the jurisdiction of U.S. laws a citizen, was actually limited in scope. …