What does birthright citizenship mean in the United States of America? Who does citizenship pertain too? How is citizenship determined, and how might a person obtain U.S. citizenship? How has birthright citizenship been viewed over the years? Many have debated these questions and still continue to do so.
The articles “Birthright Citizenship” and “Birthright Citizenship and the Supreme Court (sidebar)” and the essay “Defining ‘American’”, all give the current meaning of birthright citizenship. In the “Birthright Citizenship” article, it quotes that “Birthright citizenship means that all children born in the United States of America are automatically considered U.S. citizens, regardless of their parents’ citizenship or immigration status.” The article “Birthright Citizenship and the Supreme Court (sidebar)” quoted an excerpt from Justice Horace Gray, “To hold that the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution excludes from citizenship the children, born in the United States, of citizenship to thousands of persons of English, Scotch, Irish, German, or other European parentage who have always been considered and treated as citizens of the United States.” In the essay “Defining ‘American’” it states “Birthright citizenship is guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. That birthright is protected no less for children of undocumented person than for descendants of Mayflower passengers.” For now, birthright citizenship means that everyone born on U.S. soil excluding Indians, diplomats, and invading enemy forces are considered citizens of the U.S. no matter if their parents are illegal or resident aliens.
Over the years since the ratification in 1868 of the Fourteenth Amendment, many have sought to reexamine what birthright citizenship means and who it should pertain too. In both “Birthright Citizenship” and “Defining ‘American’”, they give examples of the views of the different sides of what birthright citizenship means. Many critics say that...