Are My American-Born Children Going to Lose Their Citizenship?
Were your children born in the US, but you’re not an American citizen? You’re not alone.
There are thousands of people in the same situation as you are. And they’re all worried about comments made by presidential candidates threatening to strip American-born children of their citizenship because of their parents’ nationality. While the candidates sound quite menacing, they can’t make good on their promises – read on to learn why.
The Fourteenth Amendment
Tycoon Donald Trump has attracted a great deal of attention due to his vehement opposition to immigration. Although many Americans agree with him, there wouldn’t be much Trump could do to revoke the citizenship of children born in the US to non-American parents.
Why is that? Trump is forgetting about a little thing called the Fourteenth Amendment. The Fourteenth Amendment states that “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.”
Why the Fourteenth Amendment Matters
There are legal scholars who believe that the Fourteenth Amendment can be interpreted to mean that only some people born in the US are entitled to citizenship. Though they might make some convincing arguments, they’re ultimately wrong.
The Fourteenth Amendment reverses the decision in a famous American court case from 1856 – the Dred Scott Case. In that case, the chief justice of the Supreme Court, Roger Taney, argued that Scott, a slave, couldn’t be a US citizen because of the issue of jurisdiction. Taney distinguished between political and territorial jurisdiction, a discrepancy that doesn’t exist in the text of the amendment.
To argue that people shouldn’t be given citizenship because their parents don’t have it is to deny the validity of the Fourteenth Amendment. And even Donald Trump can’t do that.
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About Michael Niren
Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more
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