Walter Mencken 6:15 p.m., Feb. 28
- Community Blog
Why Anchor Babies are not Legal Citizens
Today, there is controversy over the meaning of the 14th amendment. Some on the right are saying that the 14th amendment does not automatically give citizenship to the children of illegal aliens. Those on the left claim that it does and cite the decision of the Supreme Court case of "Wong Kim Ark" in 1898.
Prior to that, it was assumed that the child of a non-citizen would be a citizen of their country, not the USA. In that case, Ark was born in San Francisco to Chinese citizens. He left the U.S., and was denied reentry when he attempted to return. The denial was based on the Exclusion Laws of the time (That is an entirely different can of worms to be discussed at a later date.) The Supreme Court disagreed.
As Philip Wolgrin wrote in the Huffington Post, the Court said, "A child born in the United States, of parents of Chinese decent, who at the time of his birth, are subjects of the Emperor of China, but having a permanent domicile and residence in the United States, and are there carrying on business, and are not employed in any diplomatic or official capacity under the Emperor of China, becomes at the time of his birth, a citizen of the United States, by virtue of the first clause of the 14th amendment of the Constitution, "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."
Wolgin goes on to say, "In other words, the court ruled unambiguously that under the 14th amendment anyone born in the United States automatically, becomes a U.S. citizen."
I am bothered by this assumption that this ruling is "unambiguous" with regard to the illegal immigrant question.
The problem with applying this ruling to the subject of the child of an illegal alien is that Wong Kim Ark's parents were not illegal. At the time of his birth in 1873, the first of the Exclusion Laws had not been passed (the Page Laws, 1875). As such, his parents were LEGAL when he was born. Therefore, it would seem to me that the 14th amendment would only apply to the children of LEGAL immigrants, not ILLEGAL immigrants.