In the Spring of 1999, Charles Wood wrote "Losing Control of America's Future -- the Census, Birthright Citizenship, and Illegal Aliens," published by the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. Wood provided legal counsel to the United States Senate Immigration Subcommittee from 1995-97, 1985 and 1979-82.
In his report, Wood detailed several reasons for and against Birthright Citizenship as well as the legal framework that defines the issue and its future. The following is a summary of his arguments against Birthright Citizenship and his rebuttals to the arguments from those who favor it.
Harm Caused by Birthright Citizenship
- Loss of control over nation's future - By granting automatic citizenship to any child born in the United States, it deprives the American people of their right to determine the demographic future of the country. "Any nation, if it is to survive as more than a name or geographic location, must be capable of wisely selecting which aliens will be allowed to live within its territory and which will be granted full membership in its political community."
- Increased number of citizens without traditional American values - Because the parents are here illegally, their American-born children are more likely to stay in the shadows, meaning they will be less likely to join in the wider community, learn English, and assimilating into society.
- Increased number of dual citizens - Illegal alien parents are citizens of other nations that grant citizenship to their children regardless of birthplace, so the child's first allegiance may be to a country other than the United States, yet they'll still gain all the rights and privileges of U.S. citizens.
- Incentive for illegal immigration - A study of legal and illegal Hispanic women who gave birth in San Diego County from 1991-92 revealed that at least 15% of them came to the United States to give birth in this country, and two-thirds of those women said it was so their babies could become citizens.
- Greater difficulty deporting parents - Illegal alien parents of U.S. citizens are more difficult to deport because of their child's legal right to live in the country. Also, it creates difficult situations when considering the family's access to social services.
- Higher welfare costs - Children become instantly eligible for welfare benefits. In fiscal year 1995, more than 200,000 children of illegal aliens in California received aid at a cost of $720 million.
Defunct Arguments Favoring Birthright Citizenship
- Hurt national interest by adding to the illegal alien population - Some argue that it would be contrary to our national interests to end Birthright Citizenship because it would increase the number of illegal aliens in the United States, and consequently, exacerbate the other problems that come with illegal immigration. However, these problems already exist with or without Birthright Citizenship and discontinuing Birthright Citizenship would immediately remove one of the magnets which draws people to the United States illegally in the first place.
- Unfairness - It would be unfair to U.S.-born children who would no longer receive automatic citizenship. But, the primary responsibility of our political leaders should be to protect the interests of U.S. citizens and not those from other nations who happen to give birth in the Unites Sates. Furthermore, the American people should decide the future fate of the nation's demographics.
- Practical difficulties - Changing the laws will cause major practical difficulties such as proving citizenship during a passport application process. However, most industrialized nations don't observe Birthright Citizenship and several have changed their laws recently with no major difficulties.