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Editorial August 19, 2010  RSS feed


The old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” applies to the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Though some politicians have been advocating for its repeal, a look at the amendment reveals a simple yet very clear definition of American citizenship.

It states: “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. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

There is nothing wrong with the 14th Amendment, but its interpretation has been completely distorted of late—a fact that should outrage American citizens of every walk of life.

Ratified in 1868, the 14th Amendment was designed to protect the rights of native-born African-Americans, many of whom were recently freed slaves whose rights were being denied by certain state governments.

Illegal immigration wasn’t a hot-button issue in 1868, as the country was in the midst of Reconstruction following the Civil War. But here in the 21st century, illegal immigration and its related problems have increased tremendously.

“Anchor babies” have been an immigration phenomenon in the U.S. since the 1980s. By latching onto rights granted under the 14th Amendment, illegal alien mothers give birth to their children in the U.S., making the babies eligible to receive welfare and social benefits. The parents of these children are virtually left alone, regardless of their status, since separating families is not exactly a popular idea.

The original intent of the 14th Amendment was clearly not to facilitate illegal aliens defying U.S. law and obtaining citizenship for their offspring, nor obtaining benefits at taxpayer expense.

Even if the law is interpreted in its most basic sense, the fact that a newborn anchor baby is a U.S. citizen does not automatically allow their extended family to remain in the country illegally. The infant’s birthright citizenship is not transferrable to any other member of the family.

Amending the Constitution—a task so difficult that it’s only been done 27 times in two centuries—isn’t going to solve the immigration problem; changing the federal immigration laws already on the books will. By not correcting this misapplication of the 14th Amendment, the funds that state and local governments must provide to anchor babies amounts to a virtual tax on U.S. citizens to subsidize illegal aliens.

We offer three alternative options: 1) The mother can leave the newborn with someone in the country who is a citizen, then return to their native country. 2) The parents can take the child back to their native country and let them return when they are of legal age to live as citizens of the U.S. 3) The parents of the child can apply for citizenship before the child is born so they can remain in the country legally and enjoy the rights and privileges entitled to American citizens.

The 14th Amendment doesn’t need to be repealed and replaced; it only needs to be enforced as originally intended.