Birthright Citizenship

Birthright Citizenship

The Dred Scott vs. Sandford case (1857) led to a milestone decision for the concept of ‘citizenship’. It said that no black could be a U.S. citizen. A few years later, after the Civil War which lasted from 1861 – 1865, the 14th Amendment came into being which overturned the earlier decision of the Dred Scott case saying, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the States wherein they reside”.

The term Naturalization refers to the idea of an outsider becoming an equal citizen as if by nature. To attain this, the person must be at least eighteen years old at the time he/ she is filing a legal, permanent resident (or more clearly call it a non- citizen national) of the United States. Also, they must have had a status of a legal permanent resident in the US for at least five years before they apply.

A 2009-13 US Census data revealed that a total of over 4.1 million US citizen’s children under the age of 18 reside there with at least one undocumented parent. An estimate of half a million US citizen children says that they witnessed the detention, and deportation of at least one of the parents in two years. If children are not granted citizenship, there are chances to have another 16 million undocumented residents/ people in the US by the year 2050, as per a 2010 Migration Policy Institute report. If the amendment is made and children are denied citizenship, almost 24 million people would be rendered unauthorized by 2050- precisely 2.5 times of the amount if the birthright citizenship were not granted.

The ‘Citizenship’ and its state of existence has seen several changes. Any person who has entered the country illegally won’t be able to stay in the US and apply for the green card through the process ‘consular processing’. In this, one attends their green card interview at a US consulate in their home country and are subject to a ground of inadmissibility primarily known as the “three- and ten-year time bars” –

  • If you have been in the US for more than 180 days and then leave the country, you may be punished for illegally staying there. The punishment is a three- year bar on returning to the country.
  • If you have stayed illegally in the US for more than a year and then left the country, you are subject to be punished with a ten- year bar once you return.
  • There also exists a permanent bar for those who were either removed by an order or stayed in the US unlawfully for a year or more (in the overall calculation), then left and then again tried to re-enter in the country illegally. But this bar also has a solution. After ten years, one can request special permission to apply for a visa. So, if you have been living unlawfully in the US for more than a year, it is advisable not to leave the country and later attempt to return illegally if you wish to get a green card.

President Trump’s last year’s wish which stated that he would attempt to end the birthright citizenship in the US is called to be “blatantly unconstitutional” by the American Civil Liberties Union. In general, executive orders don’t need the approval of Congress but revoking the 14th Amendment would require one. A takeaway of legal citizenship from potential US citizens is something to be thought upon very keenly by the Congress first. The USA is among those numerous countries that grant birthright citizenship. A huge incoming of the population would occur in the States due to the persistence of this right. Likewise, the UK abolished this right due to population & native people’s insecurity concerns, the US is also on the path of doing so. There is no harm in finding ways to run well one’s own country. Probably this is what President Trump is up to; we hope to see things go rationally.

What are your thoughts about birthright citizenship? Should children of illegal immigrants be granted legal citizenship?

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