Monday, April 17, 2006
Being born here does not make you a citizen
While it is encouraging to see so many people take to the streets lately in mass democratic action (even if they seem to be advocating amnesty for illegal tresspass into the US) they may be confused on some specific issues.
While it is commonly assumed that persons born here are automatically citizens, it turns out that that is not quite the case.
Previously, there was some confusion on this issue, as the Constitution was a little vague, but this vagueness was resolved in part with the famous 1857 Dred Scott v. Sanford decision, and further clarified with the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment.
In effect, the subsequent court decisions refined the law to mean that citizenship is conferred upon persons born here only in accord with the consent of the civil community (those persons already citizens prior to the passage of the various acts, laws, and Constitutional amendment). In other words, if they follow the existing and well-established rules and procedures (which does not include being born here because your mother climbed a fence and gave birth to you on American soil).
For a more detailed exposition, the Claremont Institute has the very argument archived at the link below, as part of its "Becoming Americans" Essay Series.