Misrepresenting the birthright citizenship debate

If Republicans make any progress in starting a serious discussion about birthright citizenship, a subset of which is often called "anchor babies", the media will repeatedly mischaracterize and demonize that discussion.

Yesterday's article in the UK Telegraph was a perfect example, and surely the first of dozens or hundreds to come in left-leaning media around the world.

The Telegraph headline gave it away: "Republicans wage war on immigrants in constitution citizenship challenge"

Following is the letter to the editor which I sent to the newspaper.  It's one of the only newspapers, probably the only one, to which I have sent multiple letters but never had one published.  That's sort of interesting to me considering that the Telegraph isn't even the most left-leaning major paper in England.  (That's probably the Guardian...)  Anyway, here's my response to the newspaper:


There is nothing in the discussion about "birthright citizenship" which constitutes a "war on immigrants."  Remember that the primary issue is children of people who enter the US illegally and are therefore not immigrants.  They are, at most, migrants. And while you say that a discussion of whether to stop automatically considering the US-born children of these illegal migrants, or children born to women "on vacation" in the US, as American citizens tramples on a "sacrosanct" Constitution, you neglect to note that the text of the 14th Amendment says 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." (emphasis mine)  But illegal migrants' very presence without a visa indicates that they are not subject to the jurisdiction of the state or nation in which they reside; a similar argument can be made regarding tourists. Therefore, the question of birthright citizenship for children of short-term visitors or illegally-present people is a matter for serious debate, Constitutional interpretation, and an examination of the intent of the amendment's authors. It is not a xenophobic attack on the Constitution or immigrants.

Ross Kaminsky

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