The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed 150 years ago. It states in part, “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 has long been interpreted as meaning if a person is born on United States soil he or she is instantly and automatically a US citizen. The result of that interpretation is that each year an estimated 300,000 to 350,000 new American citizens are birthed by illegal aliens. What follows is a tangled web of good intentions, not wanting to separate baby from parents, and often an avalanche of relatives that use the baby as their “get into USA free” card.
There is nothing wrong with parents wanting a better life for their children. There is however, clearly something wrong with intentionally circumventing and exploiting the law for personal gain. Illegal immigrants, by their nature, break the law as their very first act in the United States. Coming to the US for the purpose of birthing offspring, establishing that child’s legal status, and bringing relatives along for the ride to the land of opportunity is exploitation at its worst. The baby is exploited for adults’ gain. The American immigration system is exploited, the American taxpayer is exploited.
President Trump believes he has the remedy for this growing problem. In a recent interview with Axios on HBO the President said the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee the right to citizenship to everyone born in the country. “So-called Birthright Citizenship, which costs our Country billions of dollars and is very unfair to our citizens, will be ended one way or the other. It is not covered by the 14th Amendment because of the words ‘subject to the jurisdiction thereof.
Trump also wrote about it in a Twitter post “Many legal scholars agree …”
The 14th Amendment was ratified along with 13th and 15th immediately after the Civil War. It was intended to give slaves, specifically African-Americans, full citizenship in the United States. US House Speaker Paul Ryan, a variety of Democrats and a never-ending parade of television pundits say it is clear as day that the 14th Amendment applies to illegal immigrants’ offspring even when the parent has come to the US for the purpose of giving their newborn American citizenship.
Is Speaker Ryan correct? Was that the intent of the 14th Amendment? Is that how the 14th amendment is actually written? According to one expert, no.
Mark Smith, best selling author, former law professor and founder of one of New York City’s strongest law firms has appeared as a constitutional expert on FoxNews, CNN, MSNBC and CNBC. His knowledge on US constitutional law is unquestioned.
“I think the President’s argument is actually pretty strong” says Smith.
Executive orders really depend on the subject matter they cover. If the President tries to enact gun control legislation like Barack Obama tried to do through executive order that’s not really going to fly. That is a far cry from what President Trump is trying to do.”
“The one area everyone universally agrees the President has the greatest amount of power, authority and discretion is when it comes to protecting Americans from invasions and from attacks … from the outside.”
Smith ads, “Border security, immigration, who is allowed to come here, who is not allowed to come here, these are well within the power of the President.”
The far left scoffs at this notion. When addressing Trump’s suggested fix for birthright citizenship Kevin Drum of Mother Jones argued that it has “no basis in history or reality, and there’s no reason to give it more than just the briefest dose of oxygen.”
Slate, a publication which is well left of the leftist left says, and I quote “no serious person would entertain such a profoundly racist assault on the Constitution.”
Therein lies the problem. Many on the left, as they are prone to do, want to simply dismiss the President’s idea for two reasons. First, because Trump offered it and second, because they know better. Much like climate change or a variety of other issues, if you disagree with the left you must be ignorant, incompetent, a racist, a misogynist or some other belittling descriptor.
Whether you agree or disagree with President Trump on how to deal with illegal immigration, isn’t a robust debate, an in-depth study of constitutional law, of precedent and of common sense preferable to an arrogant dismissal by self anointed intellectuals? Perhaps what they really fear is that Trump, and constitutional scholars like Mark Smith may be correct.
Maybe what they really fear is another Trump victory. For all the bluster of Barack Obama being a constitutional law professor and thus an expert, his administration’s track record on executive orders appealed to the courts was spotty at best. While those legal losses chipped away at the intellectual left, a Trump victory on such a massive issue might be a knockout blow.
At least one undisputed expert says Trump is on firm legal footing. Stay tuned for what the courts say.