Friday, June 11, 2010

While we're stripping whole groups of US citizenship...

Apparently the idea of ending "anchor babies" and the perceived net loss of billions and billions of dollars they cause is all the rage in the K-blogs today.

There's this one at Chris in South Korea, another at Western Confucian, and it even got an honorable mention at The Marmot's Hole.

From The Western Confucian:
The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution says nothing about "granting citizenship to every baby born on U.S. soil" much less imply that such is "fundamental tenet of the country's constitution." It simply grants citizenship to former slaves; that it mentioned "excluding Indians not taxed" suggests that those who maintain loyalties to other entities were not to be included.
To me, that's a bit of a specious argument. The part about "all persons born... in the United States" who are subject to US jurisdiction being US citizens is in Section 1, while the part about excluding Indians who are not taxed is in Section 2, which deals with counting people for representation in the government.

But I think there's one thing in the Fourteenth Amendment that's pretty clear about US citizenship: it's for those "subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States. Frankly, I think American citizens who live abroad and do not pay US taxes beyond a certain period after the age of majority — and who are therefore not subject to US jurisdiction — should no longer be considered US citizens.

That would include anchor babies who do not return to the US, but also long-term overseas residents. I think that's a much clearer interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment's Section 1 than the notion that "all persons" doesn't mean everybody.

That's my interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Think of all the money we could save on absentee voting for the millions of Americans who live abroad!

So give me the name of an American in Korea you don't care for and we'll set this baby in motion with a trial balloon.


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3 comments:

  1. "Frankly, I think American citizens who live abroad and do not pay US taxes beyond a certain period after the age of majority — and who are therefore not subject to US jurisdiction — should no longer be considered US citizens."


    I see two problems with this idea. First, many native-born US citizens of US citizens might be rendered stateless depending on the citizenship laws of the country of residence. Even the Chinese Consitution with its jus sanguinis citizenship makes an exception for those born on Chinese soil and would otherwise be stateless. The problem with this idea is in its enforcement. Second is the problem of enforcement. Just like I don't want to see ICE try to round up 10-12 million undocumented residents nor do I want to see them seek out longtime overseas residents and strip them of citizenship. The US Constitution gets it right: lifetime citizenship except for those convicted of high treason and those who renounce it directly or indirectly though acts like serving as an officer in a foreign military.

    There aren't many US-born citizens of US citizen parents who spend most of their lives overseas and contribute little or nothing to the US, so they're not worth worrying about. In any case, there are restrictions on the ability of overseas US citizens to pass on citizenship to their children.

    I do favor an amendment restricting US citizenship to children born of US citizens and permanent residents only with a clause providing citizenship to those who would otherwise be stateless. US citizenship grants certain legal rights and privileges, and it is not in our interests to bestow those on people who do not have strong family or residency ties to the US.

    While most opponents of unrestricted birthright citizenship are angry about so-called "anchor babies," I'm more bothered by people who come solely to get the legal benefits of US citizenshp and contribute nothing beyond the money spent during their stay. Most "anchor babies" grow up here and contribute as working adults and responsible citizens. A new citizenship amendment should provide remedies for noncitizen children raised here regardless of immigration status.

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  2. correction: The second problem with this idea is its enforcement.

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  3. "Frankly, I think American citizens who live abroad and do not pay US taxes beyond a certain period after the age of majority — and who are therefore not subject to US jurisdiction — should no longer be considered US citizens."

    And I just caught this error. Any US citizen is under the jurisdiction of the federal government no matter how long he or she has lived outside the US or how little has been paid in taxes.

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