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Birthright citizenship and the 14th Amendment

Most South Carolina residents know that immigration has been a major issue in American politics. Some lawmakers are arguing that "birthright citizenship," or automatic citizenship for those who are born in the U.S., should be ended. However, legal scholars have argued that the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects birthright citizenship.

Birthright citizenship became a law in 1898 when a 22-year-old American Chinese man, who had been born in the U.S., was denied re-entry after visiting China. This began a legal battle that eventually went before the Supreme Court. The ruling determined that the man was a U.S. citizen; this ruling was considered to be the basis for birthright citizenship. His citizenship was not recognized fully and he later died in China.

The Dean of the University of San Francisco Law School stated that the 14th Amendment was interpreted to mean that, if the person was born in the U.S., he or she was considered to be an American citizen. He also noted that it would most likely be very difficult to amend the Constitution after birthright citizenship has been legally accepted for more than 100 years. Additionally, the Immigration History Research Center director at the University of Minnesota stated that amending the law would create an inequality in citizenship. This could directly affect the 4.5 million U.S. citizens who were born to immigrant parents.

When a person's citizenship is at stake, there are several things that can happen. The person could potentially be allowed to remain in the U.S. or they may be sent back to their country of origin. A South Carolina immigration attorney may help protect the person's rights. If the person is facing potential deportation, for example, the attorney may contest the removal and provide a strong argument regarding why the person should be able to stay.

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