Repealing birthright citizenship would cause surge in stateless immigrants

Immigration reform has emerged as a key issue amongst many Republican presidential candidates.

Several candidates have strengthened their positions regarding the issue in an attempt to narrow the lead held by real estate mogul Donald Trump. He has championed immigration reform as his leading issue. His passions concerning this matter arguably came accidentally after making several offensive remarks towards the Hispanic community. 

Despite those remarks, it appears as if many Americans are on the same page as Trump, which could explain his recent surge in the polls. He plans to enhance penalties for overstaying a visa, triple the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), make Mexico pay for a permanent border and end birthright citizenship.

Birthright citizenship is backed by the 14th Amendment of the constitution. It was originally created to grant former slaves equal rights after the Civil War. The passage in particular reads:

“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.”

This sentence alone is what Trump, along with several other candidates, are calling to amend. Policy makers are now attempting to re-interpret how this piece of legislature is to be enforced. In April, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security held a debate on the amendment — the first of its kind in the past 10 years.

The fact that this is seriously being discussed is huge.

According to a 2010 study by the Pew Research Center, a change in the amendment could potentially create civil grounds for deporting over 340,000 children who were born to undocumented parents.

According to David Baluarte, director of the Immigrant Rights clinic, a surge of these so called “stateless” children could cause a “humanitarian crisis within the United States.” 

Stateless individuals have limited access to education and health care and are unable to participate in any political process. This severely limits their options regarding work and lifestyle, and it makes them especially susceptible to crime. Ironically, this is exactly what most immigrants from Mexico are trying to escape.

People come to America in search of opportunity and freedom. We should not turn our backs on those people because of our broken immigration system. We should not repeal an amendment that has not only stood the test of time but has helped millions find a place to call home. Instead, we should enact common sense legislation that will allow the 11 million undocumented immigrants in our nation a path towards citizenship so that they too can pay their fair share of taxes.

That’s a change that would hold our nation’s values intact.

The candidates who claim to be open to repealing birthright citizenship are: Trump; Sens. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham and Rand Paul; neurosurgeon Ben Carson; Govs. Bobby Jindal and Chris Christie; and former Sen. Rick Santorum.

The candidates who remain supportive of birthright citizenship are former Govs. Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee and George Pataki; Ohio Gov. John Kasich; and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker originally said that he would repeal it, but now refuses to take an official position regarding the issue.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry dismissed the idea as “inconsequential” compared with the task of securing the border.