Sunday, August 26, 2007

Illegal Foreigners

Immigrants have a hard time in making their lives in a new nation. And immigrants have helped many nations in fundamental ways. We can celebrate the immigrant. But illegal foreigners should not be encouraged. Let's reserve the term immigrant for those who properly follow legal immigration procedures. Hiking across a border should not confer the title 'immigrant' -- an honorable word.

The United States of America confers citizenship on people born within US territory. This is the law of jus soli (also lex soli). Citizenship is granted to a child born in the USA; parent nationality or legal status is immaterial (with the exception of children born to foreign embassy or consular officials posted to the USA, or the offspring of occupying enemy soldiers).

This system should be revised. When citizenship is granted to the babies of illegal foreigners, or to the offspring of tourists or short-term visitors, great confusion arises. The parents may soon need to leave, or already illegally resident (the legal status of parents is unchanged) but the infant has a citizen's right to stay. This condition is sometimes called 'birth tourism' or having an anchor baby...

Nutty! Little American children without the right to keep their parents with them. Of course we feel something is odd & unfair.

Revision of jus soli is complex because of the US Constitution's 14th Amendment, (excerpt): "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." The law has been upheld on challenge: United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898); Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202 (1982).

This anomaly can and should be fixed.