Thursday, August 20, 2015

Who is a Citizen Under the Constitution?

The current contretemps concerning who is a Citizen under our Constitution seems to be revolving around the term “anchor baby”, which is a way of referring to a child born on U.S. soil automatically being a citizen. Although that has long been our accepted policy, the Constitution is not crystal clear on this issue.

Since this topic is destined to dominate the news for a couple of days, at least, I thought it might be helpful to post the 2 places in the Constitution where Citizenship is mentioned. The first is from Article 1; while the second is from the 14th Amendment, which seems to have become the “eye of the storm.”

I have synopsized the meaning of each quote from the Constitution in an effort to give them some historical context.

Article 1, Section 4:8 states “Congress shall have the Power to……Establish an Uniform Rule of Naturalization…”

This implies that Congress would be responsible for setting up a bureau to deal with the specifics of Immigration and Naturalization. Today we call that organization Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, as it is more commonly referred. At the time it was written many of our leading citizens; including some of the leading politicians of the time; were not born here; hence the need to define the term Citizen.

The 14th Amendment states in Section 1; “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the State wherein they reside.

The point of contention here seems to rest not in the opening phrase that all persons born here are Citizens, but rather in the phrase “subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” The phrase was included as a way of addressing the issue of “Indians not taxed” in the 2nd Section of the Amendment.

I hope that this information will prove helpful to the reader as the controversy rolls forward.

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