RUMOR: The 14th Amendment guarantees citizenship to children born to parents illegally in the U.S.
FACT: The current law that grants automatic citizenship to children born to illegal aliens is Section 301 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1401, which uses language similar to the 14th Amendment, regarding persons born in the United States and "subject to the jurisdiction thereof." Critics argue that automatic birthright citizenship could be changed by revoking the statute. Others say it would require a constitutional amendment because they believe the 14th Amendment requires birthright citizenship. However, nobody can say what the 14th Amendment means until the Supreme Court interprets it. The court has not done that (The 19th century case - United States v. Wong Kim Ark - that some outlets are reporting concerned a legal Chinese immigrant).
The Birthright Citizenship Act would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act - not the constitution - to consider a person born in the United States "subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States for citizenship at birth purposes if the person is born in the United States of parents, one of whom is: (1) a U.S. citizen or national; (2) a lawful permanent resident alien whose residence is in the United States; or (3) an alien performing active service in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Examples of errors in the media:
Wall Street Journal, August 12, 2010
"Legislation to amend birthright citizenship stalled when it was introduced in the past decade in the House. It would require a vote of two-thirds of the House and Senate, and would have to be ratified by three-fourths of state legislatures."
CNN (poll), August 11, 2010
"As you may know, the Constitution says that all children born in the United States are automatically
U.S. citizens regardless of their parents' status."
The Politico (Washington, DC), June 14, 2010
"Previous efforts to get around the citizenship provisions in the amendment, including one in the late 19th century challenging the citizenship of the children of Chinese immigrants, have been unsuccessful."
ABC News, June 13, 2010
"Anyone born on American soil is an American. That's an unconditional right, according to the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution."
Fox18 (Quad Cities) KLJB-TV
"Legislation is being considered both in some states and at the national level that would deny birth certificates to these children [of illegal aliens], reversing a birthright currently guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment."
Yahoo News, May 21, 2010
"Last year, 92 Congressmen sponsored a bill that would change the 14th Amendment so that children of illegal aliens born in the United States would not be granted citizenship."
Associated Press, May 28, 2010
"Legislation dubbed the Birthright Citizenship Act was introduced in the House last year seeking to prevent citizenship to babies born to illegal immigrants even though the 14th Amendment to the Constitution guarantees citizenship to everyone born in the U.S."
Salt Lake Tribune, May 21, 2010
"Both Bridgewater and Lee agree that children born to parents who are in the country illegally should not get instant citizenship, even though the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution -- ratified in 1868 as part of post-Civil War reconstruction -- says as much."
New York Times, June 18, 2010
"The 14th Amendment, adopted after the Civil War, states: “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.” It could not be clearer."
Asbury Park Press, June 20, 2010
"The latest proposal would be unconstitutional since the 14th Amendment guarantees citizenship to anyone born in the U.S. The only way to deny citizenship to children born to illegal immigrants in this country would be to amend the constitution."
Updated: Tue, Feb 18th 2014 @ 11:31am EST