Currently, each country has specific laws regulating the relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance. When it comes to the United States, there are four main ways to become a citizen of this country. For instance, people have the opportunity to obtain the status of an American by birth, as well as through derivation, acquisition, and naturalization. In turn, birthright citizenship can be considered the easiest way to become an American, as this kind of citizenship is acquired by a person automatically, by operation of law (Anton, 2018). In other words, despite the nationality and ethnic background of the parent, a baby born on the territory of the US gains American citizenship.
When America became independent in 1776, there were no laws regulating citizenship. Therefore, in order to determine population groups that could be considered Americans, the government of the country implemented the Naturalization Act of 1790 (Anton, 2018). However, according to that law, only free white people were allowed to get citizenship in this country. In 1868, the 14th Amendment was ratified, offering people equal protection of the laws (Anton, 2018). As a result, all individuals, regardless of their race, social status, and ethnic background, born on the territory of the US were guaranteed to get American citizenship. At the same time, some modern experts state that the entire case for birthright citizenship is based on a deliberate misreading of the 14th Amendment (Anton, 2018). Even though there are many opponents of the idea to give people citizenship by virtue of their birth within US territory, birthright citizenship still benefits the country, as it helps individuals become educated members of society and contribute to the economy of the country.
The 14th Amendment to the US Constitution
One of the main reasons why birthright citizenship should not be questioned in modern society is simply because it was favored by two of the main legal branches of the American government at the time. In fact, the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution clearly states that it is enough to be born in the US in order to get the same rights as indigenous Americans (Anton, 2018). The main intention of this law was to treat every person in the same way, which is why this idea is still extremely relevant in our society.
Simultaneously, it would be important to consider a dramatic 1898 case when the American government attempted to argue that Wong Kim Ark’s citizenship should be dependent on the citizenship of his parents. Initially, this person was born in San Francisco, although his parents were Chinese (Anton, 2018). As a result of long-term discussions that took place in the Supreme Court, Wong Kim Ark was recognized as an independent American. Accordingly, as the strongest legal precedent protecting the rights of citizens born in the US, this case should be perceived as a considerable reminder for future generations regarding the importance of birthright citizenship.
The next reason why birthright citizenship is tremendously important is that it helps people assimilate into the culture. Today, assimilation can be used as a tool to help individuals create a sense of nationality in the new culture. In turn, a lack of assimilation can bring a variety of problems for the government (Lalami, 2017). For instance, in case people do not assimilate in an appropriate way, they give birth to future generations with resentment, grudges, and a lack of allegiance. These people then become more prone to committing crimes and going against the government (Nowrasteh, 2018). However, by getting citizenship, people tend to show positive feelings towards the country, thereby contributing to the change.
Individuals with birthright citizenship are expected to make friends with the national citizens, learn the national language, and attend schools, whereas undocumented members of society can pose a threat to others. Consequently, there is more social integration in general if the person is legally supported by the government. By removing birthright citizenship, the US is expected to face more problems caused by the people who live in the country illegally.
While some experts highlight that offering children from foreign families birthright citizenship is going to cause numerous problems, they ignore the contribution that can be made by these families in the future. In order to increase the national output (GDP), American employees are required to produce more goods and services (Bennett, 2020). In turn, this goal can be achieved only in case the supply of labor in the economy increases, which can be done with the help of migration.
It is essential to note that immigrants make up a huge part of the general US labor force. In fact, approximately 17% of all American employees are immigrants who are usually involved in educational services, manufacturing, arts, and management services (Bennett, 2020). When it comes to unauthorized immigrants, they play an important role in the American workforce as well. Even though there are around 5% of unauthorized workers present in the American labor force, they take appropriate measures to develop some considerable industries, such as farming (Bennett, 2020). Today, nearly one-half of all farmworkers have no work authorization. Hence, if the American government limits access to foreigners in their labor force, the economy of the country is expected to face significant issues.
At the present time, the problem of the lack of workers at all skill levels does not seem to be considerable, although it is predicted that this problem will arise in the future. Between 2020 and 2030, the country can face a shortage of personnel in the fields of work where no university education is required (Bennett, 2020). For example, salespersons and food preparation workers will be extremely popular jobs in the next ten years. At the same time, indigenous Americans prefer dedicating time to education and training, so they would be able to take the job positions in international companies (Bennett, 2020). Thus, the American labor force can face a shortage of personnel for jobs with no formal educational credentials if the right to birthright citizenship is abolished.
The USA was Created by Uniting Different People into One Nation
Birthright citizenship is a direct byproduct of the idea that contributed to the development of America as one of the most powerful countries in the entire world. The possibility of uniting people from different cultures and parts of the world was tremendously important when creating this nation (Beeman, 2021). Today, there are many people who are not Americans by birth, even though they have been naturalized or granted citizenship for work. Without birthright citizenship, their children would have trouble being accepted into society.
Birthright citizenship guarantees that immigrants and their children will be woven tightly into the American fabric. In the 21st century, no families have to suffer decimation just because they have members who are not Americans. In the Declaration of Independence, it is stated that “All men are created equal” (Anton, 2018, p. 12). If everyone is equal, then everyone should also have equal rights and equal opportunity to receive their birthright citizenship. In other words, it should not matter if your parents are foreigners, illegal immigrants, criminals, or diplomats.
Counterargument and Rebuttal
Many experts argue that the entire case for birthright citizenship is based on a deliberate misreading of the 14th Amendment (Jacoby, 2019). However, this is exactly the reason why the amendment was made in the first place. On the one hand, the vague description of this law creates a discourse among some experts and politicians (Jacoby, 2019). On the other hand, if there was any actual doubt still, then a bill could have been made. However, there are justifiable reasons why the Supreme Court could take into consideration the revision of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.
Another major argument of the opponents of birthright citizenship is that a just government in the modern world rests on the social compact. These individuals usually state that a compact that anyone can join cannot be considered accurate (Jacoby, 2019). Simultaneously, it is important to remember that the Constitution is the document that describes the rights of all people and therefore, their potential wishes as well. As a result, it would be correct to say that people having a problem with birthright citizenship also have a problem with the Constitution, their history, and the very basis of their status as an American.
The last proof that opponents of birthright citizenship frequently use is based on the fact that foreigners tend to come to the US just so their babies can have American citizenship. Nowadays, the US cannot prevent pregnant women from entering the country if they have a valid visa (Hoffower & Borden, 2019). Even though some foreign women have the intention to give birth in the US, they still do it according to the requirements created by the American government. For instance, the woman usually spends money on the appropriate type of visa, accommodation, and nutrition in the country. Furthermore, the average price for giving birth in one the American hospital varies between $10,000 and 15,000 if this process occurs without complications (Hoffower & Borden, 2019). In case a pregnant woman or her baby requires additional help from healthcare workers, extra payment is also released. Therefore, foreign women giving birth in the US make a considerable contribution to the economy of the country.
Birthright citizenship is a right that belongs to any person born on American territory. If these people are not getting granted American nationality, then there is no other nationality they would be able to take as their own. From the historical point of view, the branches of the American government have all ruled in favor of birthright citizenship. It is important that people realize that the debate about this topic directly influences the people in the nation. Creating a sense of segregation against noncitizens can bring considerable problems to a society, whereas making people born in the US feel more welcome can help them assimilate into the nation’s culture. Consequently, it is essential to stop discrimination against immigrants and people born in America by foreigners, as there are no justifiable reasons for this activity.
Anton, M. (2018). Citizenship shouldn’t be a birthright. Washington Post. Web.
Beeman, R. (2021). United States. Encyclopedia Britannica. Web.
Bennett, J. (2020). The share of immigrant workers in high-skill jobs is rising in the U.S. Pew Research Center. Web.
Hoffower, H., & Borden, T. (2019). How much it costs to have a baby in every state, whether you have health insurance or don’t. Business Insider. Web.
Jacoby, J. (2019). Abolishing birthright citizenship would be ‘frankly ridiculous’ — and profoundly un-American. The Boston Globe. Web.
Lalami, L. (2017). What does it take to ‘assimilate’ in America? New York Times. Web.
Nowrasteh, A. (2018). Op-Ed: Birthright citizenship isn’t just the law, it’s crucial to assimilation in the U.S. Los Angeles Times. Web.