Constitutional Scholar Argues Birthright Citizenship Legislation

April 14, 2005: A Constitutional Scholar Argues That Birthright Citizenship Legislation of 1866 Was Intended For Freed Slaves, Not For Foreigners

Article to the Orange County Register Register from a Constitutional scholar:

April 14, 2005 The Orange County Register P.O. Box 11626 Santa Ana, CA 92711
Attention: Chris Reed, Commentary Editor
Subject: Rebuttal to Willford and Woolsey

Dear Mr. Reed:

Recently on these pages we have seen a Reader React column [“A case for stringent citizenship standards,” Sandford Willford, Sun., Apr. 10] and a letter in response from John C. Woolsey [Tues., Apr. 12] discussing citizenship and the Fourteenth Amendment.

Willford observed the “valuable and desired asset” of American citizenship is in danger as millions of illegal immigrants are having children here who are automatically being given U.S. citizenship. Woolsey, flaunting his ignorance of original intent, said, “the 14th Amendment made it official that anyone born in the United States is a citizen.”

Willford quoted the 14th: “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.” As he described, the citizenship clause was inserted to secure citizenship for freed slaves and their children.

The intent of the framers is express and clear, as recorded in the May 30, 1866 edition of the Congressional Globe. Senator Jacob Howard, author of the clause, said, “This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers …”.

Senator Lyman Trumbull, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, elaborated:

“What do we mean by subject to the jurisdiction of the United States? Not owing allegiance to anyone else. That is what it means … It cannot be said of any (one) who owes allegiance … to some other government that he is subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.”

Five critical words here proscribe automatic citizenship – “…subject to the jurisdiction thereof…”. Those who enter illegally, in other words, not under the aegis of the United States government, are therefore not under its jurisdiction.

The “automatic” citizenship conferred on children of illegal aliens is the result of overreaching judges who read into the constitution what they wished it to mean, in defiance and contempt of both the intent of the framers and the understanding of the framers intent by those who voted to ratify it.

Willfords citizenship danger has been worsening since the U.S. Supreme Court first misinterpreted the clause over a century ago. Foreign nationals have discovered they can take advantage of the expansive interpretations of judges by producing what are known as anchor babies – anchor because a babys faux citizenship complicates the deportation proceedings for its parents. Moreover, these children also serve a source of taxpayer largesse because they become eligible for welfare, housing, food stamps, aid to families with dependent children, WIC, etc. Once 21, the counterfeit citizens can then petition to have multi-generational families immigrate under the pretense of reunification.

As the founding fathers observed, original intent is crucial to understanding and enforcing the constitution. Thomas Rutherforth said, “the intention of the legislator is the natural measure of the extent of the law.” James Wilson, second to James Madison in the drafting of our constitution, said, “The first and governing maxim in the interpretation of a statute is to discover the meaning of those who made it.” Chief Justice John Marshall, in Ogden v. Sanders, said the words of the Constitution were not to be “extended to objects not … contemplated by the framers …”. His contemporary, Associate Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, said the Court was “not at liberty to add one jot of power to the national government, beyond what the people have granted by the Constitution.”

The intent of the 14th Amendments authors are clear. As Sen. Howard pointed out, the children of ambassadors do not become citizens. American Indians did not gain the right to become citizens until the 1920s, and then it wasnt automatic. It was their choice.

For ten years there have been bills in every session of Congress to enact legislation restoring original intent to the citizenship clause. The first was H.R. 7, the “Citizenship Reform Act”. This session its being carried by Rep. Nathan Deal of Georgia as H.R. 698. It redefines citizenship without the weighty procedure of amending the Constitution, as Willford proposes.

Willfords proposal is wrong on at least two counts. One, if H.R. 698 cant get through Congress on a simple majority vote, why does he believe his amendment would garner first two-thirds of both houses of Congress and then three fourths of the states? Second, if our judges wont adhere to the original intent of the 14th Amendment, what reason do we have to believe they would abide by their constitutional oath to uphold a 28th Amendment?

Thus, the discussion illuminates four problems. One, we have widespread ignorance of our constitution, especially the 14th Amendment. Two, we have judges who divine the law as they see it, irrespective of original intent. Three, the “valuable and desired asset of American citizenship” is in danger. Four, the manifestation of the first three is a huge illegal immigration problem.

Bruce Crawford
Fountain Valley, CA