Debating the 14th Amendment

Readers share their thoughts.


Marshall Fitz of the Center for American Progress argued in favor because he supports the 14th Amendment; Matthew Spalding of the Heritage Foundation says it needs clarification. Your feedback:

U.S. citizenship is not automatic for someone born here. Just take a look at the children of diplomats who happen to be born in the United States. Those children are specifically not U.S. citizens. They are citizens of the country their parents are from. Why should it be any different for children of illegal aliens? The first sentence of Section 1 of the 14th Amendment spells out who is covered: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” The phrase “and subject to the jurisdiction” says that if you are a citizen of another country, then you are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States but rather the country of citizenship.

ALLEN ROGERS Vancouver, Wash.

The confusion over birthright citizenship is illustrated by the introduction to Two Takes, “Under the 14th Amendment, any child born in the United States is a citizen, even if the parents are not.” That statement depends upon the interpretation of the clause, “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” In arguing for “no,” Mr. Spalding discusses the background leading to the language in the 14th Amendment, including the intent of the drafters that the meaning of the clause included “not owing allegiance to anybody else.” Simple legislation could limit citizenship by birth to a person born of parents, one of whom is a citizen of the United States, is an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, or is an alien performing active service in the armed forces.


For those here in the country legally going through the process of becoming citizens, their children born in this country should qualify for birthright citizenship, but not the children of those who enter our country illegally.


Change the 14th Amendment? No need to change it, just enforce it as written and intended. Everyone knows the intent was to ensure citizenship of slaves and their children. There's no mystery in this amendment. Misinterpretations since its inception are the problem.


The anchor baby issue isn't about kids who grow up here to voting age but rather the reluctance to deport families who have a citizen child. Our country has tacitly accepted illegal immigrants by not enforcing immigration laws for generations. Sure, they were aware they were breaking a law, but it was a law well known for not being enforced. The solution is to enforce not hiring immigrants except under green card laws and temporary worker agreements. That will limit the influx. Children born here to illegal immigrants, being visitors, would thus be excluded from automatic citizenship.

TOM KARASEK Longview, Wash.

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