Birthright Citizenship Myths vs Truths


MYTH: The main problem with birthright citizenship is that it provides an enticement for illegal immigration and increases the number of dual citizens.

TRUTH: Anchor babies are the main problem because it allows illegal alien parents to stay in the U.S.

The straw man that many set up is that the argument against birthright citizenship is based on the belief that it is a major enticement for illegal immigration.

Yes, there are egregious examples of "birth tourism" in which foreign citizens pay big money to have a baby in the United States so it can later be sent back to the U.S. to attend schools as a U.S. citizen. As a dual citizen 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. And some do have babies here so that two decades later that "baby" can petition to make parents and other relatives legal immigrants to the U.S.

But the number of people involved is a tiny fraction of the total flow of visa overstayers and illegal border crossers. The media is right to say that very few foreign citizens become illegal aliens so they can have a baby in the U.S. to become a U.S. citizen.

The big problem of birthright citizenship is that the babies who are born to illegal aliens (who already are settled in the U.S.) become anchors who keep their illegally present parents from leaving the U.S. and going back home. Pres. Obama proved this in 2014 with his DAPA executive action that offered work permits and legal residency to millions of illegal aliens because they had children who are U.S. citizens based on birthright citizenship.

For years, the open-borders advocates -- and many in the media -- have accused us of making up stuff when we used the term "anchor baby." We now have Pres. Obama as the prime witness for our defense.

MYTH: Birthright citizenship is protected under The 14th Amendment of the Constitution citizenship for any child born on U.S. soil.

TRUTH: Under section 1 of the 14th Amendment it 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." The “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof” has led to a debate on whether or not this amendment refers to only American citizens who are subject to America’s authority and not to any other country or foreign power.

For more information about this debate read our Fourteenth Amendment Debate Article.

For this reason, it is a totally unacceptable journalistic practice for reporters to state without attribution that the Constitution requires giving citizenship to the births of tourists, foreign students, temporary foreign workers and illegal aliens.

When there is so much academic and legal expertise making the case that the Constitution requires no such thing, journalists are obligated to state what is clearly true: Constitutional experts are divided on this issue.

We at NumbersUSA believe the evidence is strongest as presented by experts who believe Congress can pass a simple law to end birthright citizenship -- just as governments of many countries have done in recent years. But we also know that such a law will be immediately taken to the Supreme Court. This is an issue that deserves a clear and modern ruling. If we should lose at that level, then we will have to take a look at the constitutional amendment process, but not until then.

MYTH: Ending birthright citizenship would increase the number of illegal aliens in the country and exacerbate the problems that come with Illegal immigration.

TRUTH: As long as our government allows illegal immigration these problems will continue to exist, with or without birthright citizenship. Ending birthright citizenship would immediately remove this incentive that draws people to the U.S. illegally in the first place.

It is also important to note that every advanced nation in the world except the U.S. and Canada that had birthright citizenship has gotten rid of it.

MYTH: Ending birthright citizenship could cause many immigrants to lose their current citizenship.

TRUTH: No elected official or major organization has suggested taking away U.S. citizenship from the people in this country who already were given it as anchor babies. That is another false alarm perpetuated by some media reports.

Let's get rid of the misinformation and straw men arguments about birthright citizenship and have a calm discussion about what we need as a country.

Birthright Citizenship