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Argument: Supreme Court ruled 14th amendment protects birthright citizenship

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"EDITORIAL: Born in the USA: The flawed case against birthright citizenship." Chicago Tribune Editorial. August 15th, 2010: "The Supreme Court has given the clause an inclusive reading. In an 1898 case involving the U.S-born son of Chinese parents who were not citizens, it ruled that since his parents were not diplomats, he was an American citizen. In 1982, the court considered the claim that illegal immigrants are not subject to U.S. jurisdiction and responded: 'We reject this argument.'"


Linda Chavez. "The Case For Birthright Citizenship." Wall Street Journal. August 11th, 2010: "The most serious challenge to birthright citizenship for the children of aliens came in 1898, and it involved a class of aliens who were every bit as unpopular as present-day illegal immigrants: the Chinese. Like most illegal immigrants today, the Chinese came here to work as common laborers, eagerly recruited by employers but often deeply resented by the workers with whom they competed. This popular resentment, coupled with racial prejudice, led to America's first immigration restriction law, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. It was followed by successively more restrictive federal and state laws that denied Chinese aliens—and, later, other Asians—the right to own property, to marry, to return to the U.S. if they left, or to become American citizens.

With anti-Chinese alien sentiment still high, the Supreme Court took up the case U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark in 1898. Born in San Francisco to alien parents who later returned to China, Wong travelled to his parents' homeland for a visit and was denied re-entry on his return in 1895. The government argued that Wong had no right to birthright citizenship under the 14th Amendment because his parents remained "subjects of the emperor of China" not subject to U.S. jurisdiction, even while residing in California at the time of his birth. In a 7-2 vote, the Supreme Court ruled otherwise.

The court found that the only persons Congress intended to exclude from birthright citizenship under the 14th Amendment were children born to diplomats—an ancient, universally recognized exception even under common law; Indians, who by treaty were considered members of sovereign nations; and children of an occupying enemy. "The amendment, in clear words and in manifest intent, includes the children born within the territory of the United States of all other persons, of whatever race or color, domiciled within the United States," wrote Justice Horace Gray for the majority. To hold otherwise, he noted, would be to deny citizenship to the descendants of English, Irish, Germans and other aliens who had always been considered citizens even if their parents were citizens of other countries. For more than a 100 years, the court has consistently upheld this analysis."

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