Recently there has been a fair amount of discussion over whether the U.S. should continue to grant “birthright citizenship” to the children of illegal immigrants born in the United States. The Fourteenth Amendment has long been held to require the granting of such citizenship, and last month Senator Lindsey Graham proposed a Constitutional Amendment to change that fact.
The issue has led to a few topsy-turvy political conclusions. Here, for example is Mark Krikorian (author of The New Case Against Immigration: Legal and Illegal) arguing that ending birthright citizenship would be a bad idea:
I don’t like illegals having U.S.-citizen kids any more than anyone else, but there’s no evidence suggesting that this “drop and leave” stuff is true — anything’s possible, I suppose, but it’s just an assertion at this point. My own sense is that most illegal alien women who have kids here (accounting for nearly 10 percent of all children born in the U.S. each year) didn’t come for that purpose; they came for jobs or to join relatives, and one thing led to another, birds-and-bees style, and they had kids. There are no doubt some people who dash across the border illegally to have kids, but they just can’t amount to a large share of the problem. Nor does the problem of “birth tourism” require a change in the Constitution — we just need to permit (and require) our consular officers to reject visa applications from pregnant women, inviting them to re-apply once they’ve given birth in their own countries.
And here is open-borders advocate Will Wilkinson arguing that ending birthright citizenship could paradoxically make Americans more open to immigrants:
The EU’s shortcomings, from bureaucratic micromanagement to a floundering common currency, have obscured its great practical and moral triumph: the dramatic expansion of European mobility rights and the inspiring integration of the continent’s labor markets. When Britain opened its labor markets to Polish workers in 2004, the gap in average income between the two countries was about as big as that between the United States and Mexico. But per capita GDP in Poland has improved markedly since then, hastening the day when Poland provides a robust market for British goods – and possibly British labor, too. Similarly, by 2012, Romanians and Bulgarians, who are on average poorer than Mexicans, will be able to live and work in rich countries such as France, Germany, and Britain. It’s worth noting, however, that not a single EU country has a birthright citizenship rule like that in the U.S.
As Wilkinson notes, birthright citizenship is pretty rare in Europe. Actually, it’s rare in all parts of the world except one. Here, for example, is a list (via Wikipedia) of countries that practice birthright citizenship:
Antigua and Barbuda
Chile (children of transient foreigners or of foreign diplomats on assignment in Chile only upon request)
Saint Christopher and Nevis
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
Notice anything about this list? Most of the countries in the New World have birthright citizenship, whereas virtually no country has it anywhere else (Cuba apparently doesn’t have birthright citizenship, but what do you expect from a bunch of commies). I don’t think this is a coincidence. The New World is, for the most part, populated by people with ancestors who came here only a few hundred years ago. Such societies are, it seems, much less willing to consider citizenship something that purely a matter of blood, rather than where you live.