Should Citizenship be Granted upon Birth? What's Fair?
The issue of immigration and citizenship is one that has polarized the Country, especially in recent years. In fact, the issue is so divisive and controversial that I'm probably going to get a few negative comments on this article (and that's ok).
Tied to immigration is the issue of citizenship and birth rights. One segment of society believes that those who are born in the U.S. should be (and continue to be) considered U.S. citizens regardless of the intentions or actions of their parents. This is essentially what the 14th Amendment currently says. However, an opposing segment of society believes that the 14th Amendment no longer properly serves America and that the original purpose and intent that was established long ago needs to change. Furthermore, this segment believes that additional standards for becoming a U.S. citizen should be instituted with offenders being punished or deported. What do you think? Here I'll present an argument for both sides of the this controversial coin.
Standards for Citizenship?
Some people believe that citizenship standards should be enacted for America. Creating additional standards to become a citizen isn't really equitable, however. Think about the example of someone who grew up in a patriotic household, votes in every election, plants a flag in their front yard, etc versus a domestic terrorist who only seeks to destroy America. Assuming that both individuals were born in America, they would both be considered citizens under the 14th Amendment. This is not equitable because it could be argued that the domestic terrorist did not earn (or deserve) citizenship status. If standards were put in place, then it would more equitable because everyone's ability to become a citizen would be evaluated based upon their patriotic convictions, allegiance to American Values, and ultimately the protection of this great country.
The opposing segment believes that additional standards should be established for citizenship, but the wordage in the 14th amendment says differently. The opposing segment has the right to their opinion, and it is a pretty large segment at that, hence the controversy. As of today, this opinion could be seen as unconstitutional, therefore illegal, unfair, inequitable, and unethical (it would take an act of congress for this to be legal). There have been many legislative attempts to change the 14th amendment to support this opposing view, but they all have failed so far.
The present day argument to either change the 14th amendment or increase the standards to become a citizen is mainly based off of the intentions of some illegal immigrant parents who desire to have a baby on US soil. However, the “intentions aspect” has no merit in the 14th amendment. This opposing segment is aimed at reducing illegal immigrants, but even if there was a change to the 14th amendment this would not reduce the amount of illegal immigrants entering the country, it would only deny citizenship to those born here of illegal immigrant parents.
So will enacting citizenship standards change anything? I don't believe so. Amending the 14th amendment will likely yield no significant changes to the problems facing America today. Why would it?
However, I believe that continuing to allow individuals who are born here to be US citizens is actually the most fair thing to do. It doesn't place additional pressure on either side of the argument. No one can control where they are born so it wouldn't be fair to deny someone citizenship simply because of that. Perhaps another solution to the issue would be to create a system where citizenship is given upon birth but then can be removed if the individual ends up not meeting certain criteria to remain a citizen. If this were ever the case though, where would the people be deported to? Moreover, our society already has mechanisms in place to take away people's rights when they commit crimes such as domestic terrorism.
Being born into citizenship is like being forced to become a citizen because you essentially have no choice in the matter. In this case I don't think that the forced citizenship has a negative connotation. Think of it as an automatic right given at the time of birth. Anyone can renounce their citizenship and become a citizen of another country (albeit it's not necessarily quick or easy to do so, however it is an option).
Also, continuing to move forward as we currently are is probably the most legal thing to do because it's already written into the law. And as far as ethics is concerned, I believe the most ethical thing to do is to grant permanent citizenship upon birth. In other words, we should just continue with the path that we are on. It would be extremely difficult to change it now.
What's wrong with the Status Quo?
Giving citizenship to children born here by illegal immigrants is certainly a point of contention. Unfortunately the way the law is currently written you automatically become a citizen if you were born here. So whether you think this practice is wrong or not, America citizenship can be easily obtained by some individuals. This is precisely one of the main problems facing this country today. This is why you have lots of children who are legally US citizens however their parents are not. Obviously this is places stress on resources because the children need (and legally deserve) to have services rendered by our government. So what is a Country to do about this problem?
What Do You Think?
Do you think at is should be easier or more difficult to become a US citizen? What is your take on citizenship as a right versus being a privilege? Should the government be able to strip the citizenship status of an individual? When thinking about this issue questions like this come to mind. It's easy to see why this is such a hot button issue in America.