14th Amendment should remain as is

Amongst the recent debates on immigration reform, one of the most recent issues has touched on a fundamental principle of our country and perhaps one of the bedrock tenets that make us so great as a nation.

The citizenship clause, a part of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, provides citizenship and due process of law to anyone born in the U.S. One read of the citizenship clause would be enough for most people to understand its importance and significance to our diverse country; for some, however, this clause is viewed as flawed no matter how many times they read or contemplate it.

First we must consider this clause and why it was written back in 1868.

The 14th Amendment was added to the Constitution during Ulysses S. Grant’s presidency. After the Civil War ended and within the five years immediately following, the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments were written and ratified.

The great importance of the 14th Amendment is what was symbolized then, which represents how we should view it now. The Amendment was written at a time when our nation was overcoming its ugly history of slavery and lack of liberty for those who were considered indentured servants.

The greatness of the 14th Amendment was that it overruled the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court case Dred Scott v. Sandford. In the decision of said case, anyone of African descent was unable to obtain any civil liberties or rights, despite whether or not they were slaves. The 14th Amendment was written to correct this horrendous part of our nation’s history; moreover, it represented a change in direction for our maturing country.

Since then, the 14th Amendment has protected many people — especially children — who benefited from the arduous work of their parents or families. The instant someone is born on American soil, they gain citizenship despite where their family came from or how their parents got to America. This issue goes all the way to the heart of what it means to be an American.

If we never achieved this progress, which was hastened by this amendment, America would surely not be the country that it is today — one that exemplifies diversity, freedom, hope and greatness.

To attack the 14th Amendment now is to spit in the face of our country’s development and how it has progressed.

The problems with current immigration law have nothing whatsoever to do with the said Amendment and can be solved without touching this part of our Constitution. We need to focus instead on the real battles, such as barriers to legal entry, neighboring countries’ civil wars and countries that struggle internally with persisting crimes to humanity.

At the instance of birth, it seems unfathomable that anyone could be considered illegal or devoid of the liberties that everyone else enjoys.

The liberties and rights that we are granted as Americans are as priceless as the births that take place in hospitals throughout our country. Editing or deleting the 14th Amendment now because of immigration problems from our nation’s borders would only show that our Constitution is not as strong as we should all hope it to be.

Andrew Taylor is an economics senior and may be reached at [email protected]


  • You are correct that we don't need to change it. We just need to interpret it correctly. If you research the intent of those who created the amendment, you will find that illegal aliens are not under the jurisdiction of the US and their children born here are not entitled to citizenship. This amendment was not intended to confer citizenship on the children of Native Americans due to their being subject to the jurisdiction of a sovereign nation, nor the children of foreign diplomats. I'm not sure how we get it to the SCOTUS, but once there, it should be a slam dunk.

    • Are the thumbs down for the fact that I actually researched before I commented? Or that what I have to say is factual rather than an emotional knee-jerk reaction? Research Sen. Jacob Howard (he was the author of the 14th amendment) and Sen. Lyman Trumbull wrote about jurisdiction. Congress has subsequently passed laws with regard to individual tribes, and in 1924 the Indian Citizenship Act to include Native Americans within the complete jurisdiction of the US. Since we had to pass these laws to include Native Americans, do you really think that just running across the border and giving birth should confer citizenship to the child in question?

  • Why do angry old white males rush to blame their failures in life on others? Brown hard-working people are a convenient target, right?
    How about we deport all WASPs from the US for crimes against humanity: killing Indians, bringing slaves, killing thousands of innocent lives in Hiroshima(if there is hell, Harry Trumann sure is there, what a monster)…
    Thank God Billy Bob is on the wrong side of history and demographics!!!

  • I think it is interesting when someone categorizes people as "angry old white males" and "brown hard-working people" or other similar segregationist rhetoric. I am white with many people contributing to my genetic makeup and citizenship including Native American. I have friends and relatives of a wide range of skin color hues, including some who have spent much time, energy and money to become citizens or come to this country legally. I don't think of them as my "brown, black, yellow, red or white" friends and relatives, and I wonder about the mentality of those who do.

  • Once again we see the 'comprehensive' reform crowd shown to be what they are. They're not interested in anything that will control or deter illegal immigration. True, revising the 14th amendment won't stop illegal immigration, no one action will; but it will save states millions in public benefits that now must be paid to the US citizen children of illegal aliens. It will also make it that much easier to deport these families over the whines of those who insist we can't deport the parents of US citizens.

  • I can only go back 6 generations before my immigrant ancestors came to America to have their "anchor" baby. It's a good thing Americans weren't so xenophobic back then, else, I might've been deported.

    If you repeal the 14th amendment, how far back do we have to go in our family history to determine "legal" status?

    Seriously, everyone in America is an "anchor" baby if you go back far enough…

    Let's leave the 14th alone and focus on something that really matters, like bringing those troops home.

    • We may be anchor babies ourselves by your logic but that rhetoric is pointless and moronic. If you want to argue that then what about the fact that those tribes that were indigenous here in the first place weren't no better? There were definitely tribes that attacked each other for the other tribe's territory. The early settlers simply ended up taking control of the land and uniting it under a form of government (which the tribes failed to do, even if you argue they did its pretty obvious their government was weak since just about all their land was taken). It's been the law of the land throughout all of history that to the victor go the spoils no matter where you go (besides the Arctic and Antarctica.)

      Logically and realistically the 14th amendment has to be changed. It's going to get to the point to where our country cannot support so many people living here. Immigration Law should be iron clad, no exceptions. You want progress? Then kick out every illegal immigrant no matter their skin color, just about every country including Mexico have an immigration policy put in place that is much more effective than our own. It's only grown into such an issue because other countries don't have a small country's worth of illegal immigrants living within their own.

      "Reform" does not work and it never will, both sides tried their hand at it (Reagan and Clinton) and FAILED. They only exacerbated the immigration problem since it merely opened the doors for more illegal immigrants to enter the country and contest that they had been in this country before the "reforms" occurred. If we still haven't fixed the problem then what makes you think "reform" will work this time around?

      Finally the issue of Arizona is a bloody hypocrisy and travesty. They can't mirror our country's immigration laws at a state and local level (an issue of state's rights) and yet California can get away with overturning Prop 8 (another issue of states rights)? I'm far from being in the right (I'm a moderate and I support both left and right issues that I believe are fair and that includes both Yes to Arizona's Immigration Law and Yes to California's Prop 8) but it's bloody disgusting for such hypocrisy to be allowed. The left is quick to run its mouth and complain when theres something they don't agree with but when it's one of their own policies its a-okay? And you think the right are the bad guys here? Won't get fooled again.

  • OK. Let me try to figure this out. It is against the law to enter this Country ILLEGALLY. Correct? OK. However, if you do come into this country ILLEGALLY and have a child, we will reward that child with a U.S. birth certificate and make him or her a citizen of the United States, pay for the birth and get the child on welfare so you can get money to stay in this country…and that's not ALL! We will school that child and you will get food stamps, the child will get FREE school lunches, and that's not ALL! You both can have FREE healthcare and get into public housing, and that's not ALL! The more children you have, the more money you will get. But keep in mind, it is against the law to enter this country ILLEGALLY! Do I have that right? OK. How do you feel about Birth Tourism?

    • your post brought a funny image to mind…. it's like a game show. if you can successfully cross the border without getting caught, this is what you will win…..!
      free HEALTHCARE!
      free GROCERIES!
      free LUNCHES!
      free HOUSING!
      (sorry, it is SO not funny… it makes me ill to think about it)
      Make all the POLITICIANS in favor of it, pay for the cost of the "anchor babies" & their families!

  • Section # 1 of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America seems to be the 'flash point' for many of the comments.

    Are their suggestions for the actual words that should be used to change Section # 1 given the fact that 'Due Process' is woven into the fabric of the amendment?

    Section. 1. 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. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

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