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Monday, November 29, 2021


Trump is wrong about birthright citizenship

Trump’s call to end birthright citizenship would deny this right to the American-born children of unauthorized immigrants. This decision goes against the basic tenants of the U.S. Constitution and is an idea grounded in xenophobia and racism. | Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/user: MB298

President Trump’s intent to end birthright citizenship is not only unconstitutional, but aims to erase those born in the United States regardless of their race, ethnicity or background as a citizen.

In a recent interview, Trump said he was preparing an executive order that would end the constitutional guarantee of birthright citizenship. Trump has argued that foreign-born parents of children born in the United States should not be able to have the same benefit of birthright citizenship as American-born parents.

His argument is drenched in racist undertones under the backdrop of the migrant caravan.

Trump’s latest attempt to rile up his base with this proclamation came just days before the midterm election and shakes the underpinnings of our democracy.

Birthright citizenship is protected under the Fourteenth Amendment, a Reconstruction era protection for formerly enslaved persons, with its motivation grounded in ending the horrors of slavery. Its intention was clear from the beginning to the drafters: to give equality to anyone born on U.S. soil.

They believed in America’s founding principles of equal rights, repulsed by slavery and intent on righting the wrongs that led to a deadly Civil War.

That’s the commitment the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment had in mind when they drafted the birthright citizenship amendment. It is this commitment to equality that the president would be breaking if he decides to go through with his proposal.

There is enough precedent, affirmed through the highest law of the land, that protects the Fourteenth Amendment. In 1898, in United States v. Wong Kim Ark, the Supreme Court held that the “Fourteenth Amendment affirms the ancient and fundamental rule of citizenship by birth within the territory,” which includes children of foreigners born on American soil.

Trump is making a mockery of the basic tenants of our government by suggesting that by the stroke of his pen, our constitutional rights would be rescinded.

The words written in the Constitution are plain and simple. All persons born in the United States or are naturalized are citizens. It would be hard for constitutional conservatives to preach adherence to the original text of the Constitution while supporting Trump’s destruction of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Words have consequences, and the words of the President of the United States still count for something.

Trump’s language is dangerous because it instills an “Us vs. Them” mentality while casually introducing the idea that the president has the sole authority to rescind a constitutional amendment.

The language from the highest office in the land strokes anti-immigration sentiment and fear in the growing diversity of America. This creates a toxic environment for immigrants and American-born children of immigrants who have made this country their home.

The president’s suggestion of an executive order ending birthright citizenship oversteps his authority. It was not long ago that Republicans lambasted President Barack Obama for overstepping his authority by issuing an executive order protecting children of undocumented immigrants from deportation, a program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

The backlash is nowhere to be found this time around. Republicans have been quick to support it. If DACA was seen as the president taking over the legislation process and creating laws single-handedly, ending birthright citizenship is a greater overreach of the law.

The president cannot single-handedly erase a constitutional amendment that has been backed up by the Supreme Court. It goes against the solemn oath that a president takes before coming into office to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

We cannot let our nation crumble in fear of diversity and fall into a dangerous precedent of stripping away the foundations of our democracy. A nation of immigrants should not quiver in fear of a new generation of Americans, for if we take the president to heart, none of us would be able to call ourselves American citizens, not even himself.

Opinion columnist Janet Miranda is a marketing junior and can be reached at [email protected]


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