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"Repealing birthright citizenship would be the equivalent of “a tax on
every child born in America,” said Grover Norquist, president of
Americans for Tax Reform. He was commenting on a recent National
Foundation for American Policy study by immigration expert Margaret
Stock, a former professor at West Point and an attorney with the law
firm of Lane Powell. (A copy of the study can be found here.)
Birthright citizenship guarantees U.S. citizenship to almost all
babies born on U.S. soil, with the children of diplomats the primary
exception. We take for granted as Americans that we don’t need to hire
attorneys and fight through a bureaucratic maze to prove the child of a
baby born in a U.S. hospital is an American citizen.
That would change if efforts were successful to repeal through a Constitutional amendment or other means the 14th
Amendment’s guarantee of citizenship to American-born children. Such a
change would not reduce illegal immigration, since there is little
evidence the primary motivation of illegal immigrants coming here is to
give birth on U.S. soil, as opposed to jobs. Countries that do not
guarantee birthright citizenship have not eliminated illegal
Margaret Stock notes that Americans now pay $600 to the federal
government to verify citizenship in certain cases, and legal fees can
range another $600 to $1,000. If every baby needed an affirmative
defense of its citizenship status, then these types of costs would be
borne by new parents in America.
“Perhaps the most important reason conservative voters should be
highly skeptical of denying birthright citizenship is what it would do
to all American citizens who give birth in the United States,” explains Linda Chavez,
chair of the Center for Equal Opportunity. “Because babies born here
now are presumed citizens under the Constitution and current law,
parents aren’t required to do anything to prove their own citizenship.
There’s no expensive paperwork or bureaucracy involved. Indeed, birth
certificates showing a child was born on U.S. soil are now proof of
citizenship.” She warns against “a whole new, cumbersome agency to
verify claims and issue documents.”
The costs would go further. Several categories of children could
become largely stateless, including those with parents who can claim
dual citizenship, are in a temporary visa status or without legal
status. The Migration Policy Institute estimates another 100,000 to
300,000 children a year would live here without legal status and be
unable to participate fully in American society in numerous ways.
Margaret Stock concludes, “The proposed change will impose burdensome
bureaucratic costs on all newborns and their parents at a time when
many Americans favor less government, not more. This proposal threatens
to become the latest in a long line of expensive verification systems
that fail a basic cost-benefit analysis and threaten to drown Americans
in bureaucracy at every stage of their lives.” - Stuart Anderson, Mar. 9, 2012.