Our President is certainly redefining government and questioning the old traditions. The latest was his proposal to end birthright citizenship, which has been on the books since Reconstruction after the Civil War. The 14th amendment expanded the constitutional definition of citizenship to include all persons born on US soil and subject to federal jurisdiction. Free White Men, freed slaves, and children of immigrants were now citizens; Native Americans later gained right to citizenship
at a time when Eastern Europeans and Asians were generally excluded from immigrantion.
Congress rejects the idea: Birth tourism is a healthy industry, flourishing in places like California, Florida, and New York. Anchor babies are welcome, as long as their mothers are from families of means. Furthermore, birth certificate tend to be issued without asking the parents’ nationalities. I believe that anti-discrimination laws discourage hospital staff from asking excess questions. In the DC area, children of diplomats do obtain regular birth certificates, and thus can claim citizenship. Asides from one article, I have not heard any concern about diplomats taking more than their fair share.
Other issues: Ending birthright citizenship admits a certain defeat on law-and-order issues. Not long ago, a Mexican national, unlawfully present in the Texas, was executed for murder over the objection of the Mexican government. Would conservative really want to declare that children of illegal immigrant parents are not subject to US law, but entitled to reprieve at foreign consulates of Mexico and Ireland? Because even under the most zealous government, maternity wards won’t be booking outbound airfare for newborns. Mass deportation is unlikely. Some scholars look to early 20th century court precedent (conservative judicial activism- see previous blog post). But that was a different era, and not representative of a world where airplanes connect any two cities in less than 24 hours; of visa-free access and lower trade tariffs.