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The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land. It is therefore up to everyone to obey the law because it is the way that the government rules a country. In 1868, the Congress of the United States established the Fourteenth Amendment that "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."In the recent past this has become one of the most controversial topics of discussion. It is estimated that 200,000-300,000 illegal aliens enter the United States annually without workable control mechanisms. The impact of this inflow has had far reaching socio-economic consequences on the lives of low abiding tax payers (Haines, D. W&Rosenblum, K. E 1999). Therefore, the law about the birthright citizenship in the Fourteenth Amendment should be revised to prevent this abuse of automatically being a US citizen by illegal immigrants and other alien in temporary status.
Children born to illegal immigrant mothers in the United States are called anchor babies or sometimes are referred to as jackpot babies. In 1965 President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Hart-Cellar act that allowed more immigrants especially from third world countries to enter the United States this was to ensure that future immigrants to the country were to be admitted to the United States because of their professional skills and not because of their country of origin. It was aimed at getting rid of racial discrimination in America, to be considered for residency in the United States various considerations are made such as spouses and children of permanent residents and unmarried adults whose parents are American citizens (Webchron).
After reaching the age of 21 the child may sponsor other members of his or her family to enter the United States legally. This is also known as chain immigration which comes up as a result of a wrong interpretation of the 14th Amendment, right which was passed to guarantee the emancipated slaves citizenship. More importantly, it stated that "all people born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States". The intention of the line "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" was to exclude people or groups of people whose allegiance to the United States was not complete from getting automatic citizenship. As result of their tribal jurisdiction, the Native Americans were not granted American citizenship as well as other foreigners visiting the United States (Federation for American Immigration Reform).
Benefits of Birth Citizenship
Illegal immigrants often collect food stamps and receive benefits of Medicaid thanks to their children who were born in the United States and therefore are entitled to these benefits. It is estimated that about 40% of all illegal households in the United States receive some form of welfare for example in New York 49% of illegal households receive welfare, in California the rate is 48% while in Texas the rate stands at 44%, this is huge when compared to only 19% of the population of native born households who are on welfare (Feere,J.).It is estimated that birthright citizenship and illegal immigration costs the Los Angeles County over one billion dollars every year and this does not include the amount spent on education. States in the south that share the border with Mexico suffer more from these effects; for example in Texas 16% of all births over every America states which translates to between 60,000 to 65,000 babies are born to parents who are illegal aliens. The resultant benefits of United States citizenship as a result of birthright citizenship has the effect of attracting people who wish to have an American citizen in their family. This has resulted in "birth tourism", whereby pregnant women from other countries legally travel to the United States with only one intention: to give birth on American soil, so that their new born children may acquire American citizenship (Centre for Immigration Studies).
Impact of Birthright Citizenship
It is believed that about 300,000 to 400,000 children are born annually to illegal immigrants in the United States of America, this population has grown from 2.3 million in the year 2003 to 4 million in 2008 and this figure excludes those individuals over the age of 18 and those who are married. For example the children born from illegal immigrants or anchor babies as they are called, receive benefits that other families of illegal immigrants do not these include food assistance through food stamps and more importantly the ability of the child to legalize his or her parents after reaching age 21. This provision allows the child to bring into America any foreign born siblings or spouse who may in turn bring in their spouse resulting in an endless stream of immigrants, from their countries of origin. If these trends continue, then in future there is going to be an even higher influx of migrants and May one day outnumber the people of the United States. This is why the clause on the 14th Amendment needs to be revised (Centre for Immigration Studies).
Presently the immigration policy of the United States is anchored on the broadly defined principle of family reunification; as a result of this, it is possible for immigrants to sponsor relatives from their countries of origin for them to be admitted as immigrants in the United States under the "immediate relatives", this is done without a limit. In the year 2001, over one million immigrants were admitted to the United States .In 1986 Congress gave amnesty to illegal aliens, this move fuelled naturalization in huge numbers these former illegal immigrants became citizens, all of their immediate relatives back at home automatically qualified to be admitted into the United States, this gives a new group of legal immigrants the perfect opportunity to start migration chains of their own. The United States Commission on Immigration Reform made a proposal to limit the number of family sponsored immigrants to only include the spouse and children and the number to be restricted to 400,000 every year, however, their recommendations were not taken into account (Federation for American Immigration Reform).
An International Comparison
Very few countries in the world grant universal and automatic citizenship to children of temporary and illegal immigrants. In a survey conducted by the Centre for Immigration Studies, only 30 countries out of a total of 194 grant automatic birthright citizenship (Backgrounder).
A vast majority of developed countries do not grant automatic birthright citizenship to children of illegal immigrants, the International Monetary Fund puts the number of advanced economies at 31 and of these countries, and the United States and Canada are the only developed countries that accord universal and automatic birthright citizenship to children of illegal aliens. Countries that have put an end to birthright citizenship in the recent past include the United Kingdom in 1983, Australia in 1986 and Malta in 1989 among others. Not all countries that grant automatic birthright citizenship to children of illegal immigrants, allow these children to bring members of their families from their country of origin. This has the effect of eradicating the problem of chain migration in these countries. (Vink, M. P &Rene de Groot, G. 2010).