Breaking & Belonging

People come here to have a baby just to take advantage of our policy of granting citizenship to anyone born here. Some are proposing a change to the 14th amendment to block this. In my understanding, this is a result of a misapplication of the 14th amendment.

Under the original Constitution, citizens of the United States were required to be first a citizen of some State - something newly emancipated citizens could not claim.

So the citizenship clause of the 14th says:

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.

The purpose was to grant rights of citizenship to slaves, born in a state, but not considered citizens by their states because of their status as slaves.

This is why it was imperative for the first section to begin with a definition of citizenship so that no State could refuse recognition of newly freed slaves as U.S. citizens by withholding the right to protection of the laws in life, liberty or property in the courts as enjoyed by white citizens.

Meaning? If you are a slave, born in and a resident of one of the states (ie subject to the jurisdiction thereof), you are a citizen of the United States. The intent of the amendment appears in no way to mean that anyone born here is automatically a citizen, because they are not subject to the jurisdiction of one of the states. So why is an amendment needed?

The Civil Rights Act of 1866 had already granted U.S. citizenship to all persons born in the United States "not subject to any foreign power." The 39th Congress proposed the principle underlying the Citizenship Clause due to concerns expressed about the constitutionality of the Civil Rights Act during floor debates in Congress.

Joe Scarborough of MSNBC, once a Republican congressman, expressed dismay today over the GOP move for adjustment to the 14th. I suspect he's concerned about the political ramifications of such a position, its racial overtones, and the potential alientation of Hispanics from the GOP - not his wish to preserve a policy that has women breaking into the country at the end of term to maliciously provide their children dual citizenship. Who could support that?

This is complicated stuff, consitutional law, and I'm eager for input from anyone who has light to shed on why Lindsay Graham, and others, believe an amendment is needed.