September 8, 2015
Donald Trump’s call to end birthright citizenship has roiled the Republican presidential primary. Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Marco Rubio embrace the traditional view that the Constitution bestows citizenship on anyone born on US territory. Ben Carson and Rand Paul agree with Trump that Congress could dismantle birthright citizenship by itself. Meanwhile, Ted Cruz acknowledges birthright citizenship but seeks a constitutional amendment to abolish it.
Conservatives should reject Trump’s nativist siren song and reaffirm the legal and policy vitality of one of the Republican Party’s greatest achievements: the 14th Amendment. Under its text, structure and history, anyone born on American territory, no matter their national origin, ethnicity or station in life, is a US citizen.
Although the original Constitution required citizenship for federal office, it never defined it. The 14th Amendment, however, provides 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.” Congress did not draft this language to alter the concept of citizenship but to affirm American practice dating from the origins of our republic.
Read the full article at the American Enterprise Institute: Ignore Trump — the issue of birthright citizenship has been settled