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Donald Trump presented a number of controversial measures in his presidential campaign's presidential plan last Sunday. While deporting the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country was perhaps the most financially non-viable proposal, ending citizenship for children born in the U.S. might be the most politically impossible task. Aside from needing to repeal the 14th Amendment, here are the 15 reasons why ending birthright citizenship is a horrible idea. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Donald Trump doesn’t want children born in America to get U.S. citizenship if their parents are in the country illegally, as a part of his 100-200 billion dollar deportation plan . Birthright citizenship, legally known as jus soli guarantees the right of citizenship to people born on American soil. Birthright is currently guaranteed by the 14th amendment, according to legal scholars. Some opponents of birthright citizenship point out that the amendment, ratified in 1868, was intended to prevent discrimination and disenfranchisement of African-Americans. They also point out that America’s birthright laws are a minority approach amongst world nations, and evoke a set of far-fetched hypotheticals that we’ll deal with at the end of the article. Trump calls birthright citizenship the “ biggest magnet ” for immigration, saying that it is the biggest driver of illegal immigration.

Trump is not the only anti-birthright candidate in the 2016 presidential race. A number of his Republican colleagues support ending birthright citizenship -- Scott Walker, Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal have either said that birthright citizenship should be reconsidered or stated explicitly that they would seek to change the law to exclude certain immigrant children, according to HuffPo . (Carly Fiorina, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee and Marco Rubio have said that would not change it.) Trump does not detail exactly who would be denied citizenship under his plan. Should citizenship be revoked if just one parent were unauthorized, or would it have to be both? Would the millions of children of unauthorized parents currently in the country be stripped of citizenship retroactively? Would he pass a law and hope that the Supreme court doesn’t strike it down, or would he seek to change the 14th amendment?*

Below, we list the reasons why ending birthright citizenship would be bad or worse, depending on how it were carried out.

  1. The “magnet” argument has never been proven, or even tested. This year, the idea of immigration policies such as DACA/DAPA serving as a significant draw for migrants has been rejected by U.S. District Courts in two separate cases for being “unscientific” and “ speculative .” Conversely, there’s little to no empirical evidence that ending citizenship rights would act as a deterrent to unauthorized immigration.

  2. Repealing the 14th Amendment might disenfranchise second-generation immigrants, but it doesn’t mean they won’t be in the country; it’s no magic deportation wand.

  3. The undocumented population in the country would swell. The currently number of immigrants living in the shadows would grow to 16 million by 2050, according to the Washington Post, who cites the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute. That’s if the law were limited to children with two parents in the country illegally. If it included just on undocumented parent, the number would be 25 million .

  4. The economy is hurt when immigrants are kept in the shadows, according to a study authored by the left-leaning Center for American Progress. One can debate over the positive and negative effects of immigration, but no matter where an immigrant is from and what skills they have, the ones that are here generally do better and contribute more to society when they have the legal protection of citizenship or a visa.

  5. Ending birthright citizenship is Dreamers squared. The U.S. is already torn over the grey area of Dreamers -- children brought to the U.S. illegally when they are minors who grow up here. Why expand the number of people who feel, act, talk and live like citizens who are not recognized as such?

  6. Like Dreamers, these babies would be “breaking” immigration law, making it difficult for them to “immigrate” to the U.S. in the future.

  7. Whether it’s African slaves or children of Latino migrants, the 14th Amendment solves the same problem: people who are born and raised in America can’t be discriminated against, disenfranchised, etc.

  8. Immigrant children don’t always learn their parent’s language. Deporting them to their “native” country is horrendous. According to Pew , 20 percent of second-generation immigrants and 60 percent of Asian immigrants can’t speak their parents’ language well.

  9. Look at the Dominican Republic, which recently ended birthright citizenship. As part of a long history of discriminating against the black population in the D.R., the country is currently ousting Haitian immigrants and their descendents. The second-generation immigrants often don’t speak Haitian creole . Black Dominicans have faced increased scrutiny when applying for passports .

  10. Red Herring #1: Anchor babies. Opponents of birthright citizenship allege that a significant number of immigrants intentionally give birth in the U.S. in order to increase their chances of getting permanent residency under our current laws that favor family members in the immigration process. In reality, it’s a far-flung and little-used loophole.

  11. U.S. citizens can not sponsor relatives until they are 21 years old , making the anchor baby scheme pretty complex.

  12. Family-based immigration could be changed, without repealing the 14th Amendment.

  13. Red Herring #2: Tourism babies. Hundreds of cases of women traveling to the U.S. in order to give birth (usually from China) have been reported. This is currently legal. It could be prohibited, without changing citizenship laws. It’s also not a widespread problem

  14. Red Herring #3: Terrorism babies. “Imagine a young man born in the United States of non-immigrant parents and taken away at a very early age, reared in Waziristan, educated in Islamist madrassas and trained in the fundamentals of terror at one of the many camps in Southwestern Asia,” writes anti-immigration think tank CIS . The closest example to this that CIS cites is Anwar al-Awlaki who never traveled to the U.S. to commit an attack, but allegedly supported others who did so. If using his citizenship was such a foolproof plan, why didn’t he? Also, note that Americans killed Anwar al-Awlaki in a drone strike.

  15. It doesn’t take an imagination to know who commits terrorism in the U.S. The majority of terrorism-related deaths since 9/11 have been perpetrated by anti-government nuts and home-grown racists. A small minority are immigrants or children of immigrants who were in the country legally. The 9/11 terrorists themselves came to the country legally on a mix of tourism, student, and other visas.

Bonus: Harry Reid. Trump and other Republicans often cite Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as a supporter of ending birthright citizenship. He did introduce a bill advocating for such a measure in 1993. What thye don't say is that he's publically regretted the decision, calling it the lowpoint of his career, according to Politifact.

"I didn't understand the issue. I'm embarrassed that I made such a proposal," he said, in 1999.

*As a refresher, here’s the 14th amendment, stylized with bullet points:

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 U.S.

  • 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.

Got any more reasons why ending birthright is a bad idea? Let us know in the comments. Think it’s a good idea? Let us know. If we can muster up enough arguments, maybe we’ll make an article with reasons birthright is a good idea.

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