Ok, so the 14th amendment has come up in this election cycle due to the debate on illegal immigration among the GOP candidates. I have made mention of this amendment several times on this website and most of you probably know where I stand. However, I have always been under the belief that the anchor baby issue which arises due to the interpretation of the 14th amendment was settled law. That it would take a Constitutional amendment to get rid of the anchor baby problem. Recently, though, there has been an argument that the 14th amendment already clearly forbids anchor babies.
Here is the relevant section of the article:
"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."
So, we have the law which appears to grant citizenship to anyone born in the U.S. However, they must be subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. What does this mean? It means the person must be subject to the laws of the U.S. This is a gray area and certainly debatable. Is jurisdiction a matter of geography or citizenship/legal residency? Well, we have a clue from the author of the bill:
Senator Jacob Howard said,
"Every person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States. This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons. It settles the great question of citizenship and removes all doubt as to what persons are or are not citizens of the United States. This has long been a great desideratum in the jurisprudence and legislation of this country."
How important is the actual intent vs. the wording if that wording may be confusing or problematic? Let's consider the recent case of the ACA.
"The court agreed that that was the only way the law would work and that, although the legislationís wording was problematic, Congressís intent was clear."
In my estimation, we can fix the anchor baby issue, and a large component of our immigration problem in the U.S. if the Congress would simply make the law to forbid anchor baby citizenship. What is preventing this from occurring and/or am I missing something else related to the 14th amendment which would prevent this seemingly simple action by Congress?