Neither the 14th Amendment’s text, nor its history, nor the way it has been construed by the Supreme Court, requires the United States to grant birthright citizenship to illegal immigrants.
Birthright citizenship has exploded into the national discourse. The issue is generating a lot of heat on the Republican side of the aisle in particular, because it threatens to expose the long-standing rift between the party’s base and its pro-crony-capitalism establishment.
Unfortunately, in arguing that the 14th Amendment requires citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants, some of the more prominent interlocutors are promoting an incorrect understanding of history. The Wall Street Journal’s recent editorial on the matter is a case in point, and my good friend John Yoo’s NR essay repeats one of the same basic flaws.
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