There is this conversation being had right now in which Donald Trump can supposedly end Birthright Citizenship whenever he wants through an Executive Order, without needing to Amend the Constitution.
The problem? He can’t. Birthright Citizenship is guaranteed through this document, the US Constitution. If you read the 14th Amendment, it makes this explicitly clear.
So, let’s actually run down this Amendment:
“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.”
This sentence is actually not hard to read. In context of this conversation, the most important parts are the following:
- All persons born…In the United States
- Subject to the jurisdiction thereof
- Are citizens of the United States
An argument I keep hearing is that undocumented immigrants are not subject to our jurisdiction. This is nonsense. Here is the definition of Jurisdiction:
“the official power to make legal decisions and judgments”
“the extent of the power to make legal decisions and judgments”
“a system of law courts; a judicature”
If undocumented immigrants are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, that means we can not arrest, charge, convict, or punish them of any crimes committed… even improper entree or unlawful presence. If you are on the right, you know very well that this is nonsense.
So where would “Subject to the jurisdiction thereof” apply, then?
Well, diplomats. Let’s say we have a diplomat of Russia here in the United States, and they commit a crime here. We can not arrest them, we can not charge them, we can not convict them, and we can not punish them. The only thing we can do is send them back to Russia. Anything more would be an act of war.
Diplomats are not subject to our jurisdiction, and as such this portion of the 14th Amendment would not apply.
“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States”
Another piece of the conversation is the idea that we can strip citizenship to anyone who got it through birthright citizenship. This is again, nonsense. If this was true, practically every citizen could get their citizenship stripped from them, and thus this portion of the Constitution would not even matter; they could get around this by declaring someone is simply not a citizen.
There is also another portion of this idea being ignored: Article I, Section 9. The clause of importance reads:
“No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed”
According to this section, we can not retroactively enforce any law. Even if we eliminated Birthright Citizenship, everyone who became a citizen through this system could not get their citizenship stripped, as this would be “ex post facto Law”. To define:
“An ex post facto law is a law that retroactively changes the legal consequences of actions that were committed, or relationships that existed, before the enactment of the law”
“nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”
Notice how this section is written. In layman’s terms, it states that no State can deprive any person of these three things “Life, Liberty, or Property”, without giving them due process. Even if we could strip citizenship to those who received it through, which we already established we can not, we would still have to do so through the courts.
This also debunks the idea that due process doesn’t apply to undocumented immigrants. Read this amendment. It says we can not deprive any person. It doesn’t say citizen. It says person. The idea that we don’t need to provide due process to undocumented immigrants suggests that they’re not human beings. If you believe this, there is only one word for you: Bigot.
This portion of this amendment also takes what we’re doing with guantanamo bay and makes it unconstitutional: We are imprisoning these people, depriving them of liberty, without due process. Again, it states we can not deprive any person of liberty without due process.
This also takes another controversial policy, and makes it unconstitutional: Civil Asset Forfeiture. This policy allows Cops to claim they suspect you’re doing something illegal with your property, usually money, and takes it from you, placing the burden on you to prove without a doubt that you weren’t.
This is unconstitutional. Under the 14th Amendment, a State can not deprive any person of property without due process, and yet this is exactly what Civil Asset Forfeiture is.
In 2014, Law Enforcement stole more money through this unconstitutional practice from people than burglars did that very year. This should outrage you, especially if you believe in the raw words of the Constitution.
“nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”
And finally, this. There isn’t much to point out in Birthright Citizenship here, but rather the common argument that undocumented immigrants do not get rights. Read this portion of the 14th Amendment. It says we can not deny any person within our jurisdiction the equal protection of the law.
There are a few portions of the Constitution that specifically state that it only applies to citizens. However, this word is not used anywhere in:
- Article I, Section 1
- Article I, Section 4
- Article I, Section 5
- Article I, Section 6
- Article I, Section 7
- Article I, Section 8
- Article I, Section 9
- Article I, Section 10
- Article II, Section 2
- Article II, Section 3
- Article II, Section 4
- Article III, Section 1
- Article III, Section 4
- Article IV, Section 1
- Article IV, Section 3
- Article IV, Section 4
- Article V
- Article VI
- Article VII
- The Bill of Rights Preamble
- Amendment I
- Amendment II
- Amendment III
- Amendment IV
- Amendment V
- Amendment VI
- Amendment VII
- Amendment VIII
- Amendment IX
- Amendment X
- Amendment XII
- Amendment XIII
- Amendment XVI
- Amendment XVII
- Amendment XVIII
- Amendment XX
- Amendment XXI
- Amendment XXII
- Amendment XXIII
- Amendment XXV
- Amendment XXVII
Notice how some portions of the Constitution use the word “citizens” and some don’t? Some use the word “Persons” or “People”.
When a portion of this document uses the word “Persons”, it stands to reason that it applies to ALL Persons, or when the document uses “People”, it stands to reason that it applies to ALL People.
Only when the document specifies Citizens does it stand to reason that that provision only applies to Citizens, or can make changes to how citizenship works… such as how the 14th Amendment which, while it does use the word Citizen, it does so to specify that those born in the United States and subject to our jurisdiction are to be citizens of this nation.
Here is a link to the full text of the Constitution. Take note on how the words that are used are used purposefully. If you believe in the raw text of the Constitution, here’s the document you’re supposed to believe in.
Here’s the final point: If you believe in the Constitution, and the raw words used in this document, you should know what you’re talking about when discussing such matters. The most important way to know is to actually read the document instead of paying attention to what Donald Trump or Fox News says is in there.
Nowhere in this document does it state that Constitutional Rights do not apply to undocumented immigrants, or even to non-citizens. Rather, it actually makes a distinction between “Citizens” and “Persons/People”, and uses those terms where it actually applies. This is why it stands to reason that such rights do apply to those who are undocumented; Undocumented Immigrants are still people.
No, it is not legal for Donald Trump to eliminate Birthright Citizenship through an Executive Order. This is unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment. If you don’t like it, Article V is right there, ready for you to use.
And while you’re wasting your time trying to pass an Amendment XXVIII eliminating Birthright Citizenship, we here on the Left will be fighting for an Amendment XXVIII that eliminates Private Money in Politics. Thank you very much.