VOL. 17 ISSUE NO. 49   |  DECEMBER 7 – 13, 2011


Birthright Citizenship Act would clarify ‘under the jurisdiction’

‘Anchor baby’ added to ‘New American Heritage Dictionary’

STEVE KINGWASHINGTON – H.R.140, titled the Birthright Citizenship Act of 2011, was introduced on Jan 5. 2011 by Rep. Steve King (l), R-Iowa. As of last month, the bill had 80 co-sponsors.

While its companion bill S.723 was read twice in the Senate and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary in April 2011, H.R.140 was referred to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement on Jan. 24, 2011 where it languishes without action.

The bill does not amend the Constitution but rather Section 301 of the Immigration and Nationality Act to clarify those classes of individuals born in the United States who are considered nationals and citizens of the United States at birth.

The Birthright Citizenship Act amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to clarify a person born in the United States "subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States for citizenship at birth if the person is born in the United States of parents, one of whom is: (1) a U.S. citizen or national, (2) a lawful permanent resident alien whose residence is in the United States, or (3) an alien performing active service in the U.S. Armed Forces.

The United States presently recognizes any person born on American soil as a U.S. citizen, ignoring the constitutional requirement under the 14th Amendment that one must also be “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States.

The debate over whether children born to illegal aliens or aliens visiting the United States with temporary visas are entitled to birthright citizenship continues.

Those seeking to end the practice of awarding illegal aliens and tourists with birthright citizenship for their children, a practice that has been done away with in all other industrialized countries except the United States and Canada, claim it rewards illegal immigration, increases population growth, and allows the child to become an “anchor” for the illegal alien or non-resident alien family to remain in the United States and eventually gain legalization.

Meanwhile, the “New American Heritage Dictionary” has added the term “anchor baby” to its latest edition, which it defines as, “A child born to a noncitizen mother in a country that grants automatic citizenship to children born on its soil, especially such a child born to parents seeking to secure eventual citizenship for themselves and often other members of their family.”

Currently, there is no system in place that tracks births in the United States of children born to illegal alien or non-immigrant parents.

According to Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) estimates, released in a March 2011 report on birthright citizenship (Birthright Citizenship for the Children of Visitors: A National Security Problem in the Making?), approximately 200,000 children were born in 2009, and granted U.S. citizenship, to alien mothers lawfully admitted to the United States on a temporary basis, despite the mother owing allegiance to a foreign nation.

CIS based the estimated number of births to foreign visitors (non-immigrants) on female admissions between the ages of 18 and 34, their fertility rate, and by non-immigrant category that included short-term non-residents (tourists), short-term residents (students, guestworkers, etc.), and border-crossing card visitors, which made up the highest number.
CIS also estimates between 300,000 and 400,000 children are born each year to illegal aliens.

The report stated, “In the context of our overall population, 192,100 children born to non-immigrant entrants in a single year may not seem overly large, but it must be added to the estimated number of children born of illegal aliens (300,000-400,000) yearly. And the question of whether children born in the United States of foreign students, tourists, exchange visitors, and casual border crossers should have bestowed on them so freely and casually the gift of citizenship, with all its attendant rights and privileges, is not simply an intellectual-cum-statistical exercise.”

From a security standpoint, the report discusses the “real consequences” that can attach to birthright citizenship, citing Anwar al Awlaki, the American-born cleric from Yemen, as an example.

Despite being born in 1971 in Las Cruces, N.M., to non-immigrant Yemeni parents while his father was a foreign student, al Awlaki left with his parents to live in Yemen after his father completed his studies, only to return to the United States later using his American citizenship to go to college before returning to Yemen.

Al Awlaki was a spiritual advisor to three of the 9/11 hijackers; was in contact with Army Major Nidal Malik Hassan, prior to his Ft. Hood, Texas killing spree; and counseled Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, dubbed the “Christmas Day Underwear Bomber.”

The report cautions, “Anwar al Awlaki is a sobering reminder of the dangers that reach out to find us in a world fraught with asymmetrical perils and rampant anti-Americanism. He is the viper who nested in the bosom of our nationality, and who turned on us with uncommon rabidity.”

Pointing out such extreme examples may be rare, the report states, “[W]e should remember that it only took 19 fanatics bent on mass murder to instigate two wars and to fundamentally alter American domestic security, foreign policy — even our notion of ourselves as a society.”

In conclusion, the report asks, “In an open and honest discussion we as a society should begin by asking ourselves, do we as Americans undervalue our own citizenship by giving it away so freely, and is the generosity of spirit with which we have chosen to interpret the 14th Amendment truly in our national interest and security?”