Charles F. Tolbert EdD
Citizens For America (CFA)
The Un-Constitutionality of Citizenship by Birth to Non-Americans
The 14th Amendment
By P.A. Madison
Former Research Fellow in Constitutional Studies
February 1, 2005
We well know how the courts and laws have spoken on the subject of children born to non-citizens (illegal aliens) within the jurisdiction of the United States by declaring them to be American citizens. But what does the constitution of the United States say about the issue of giving American citizenship to anyone born within its borders? As we explore the constitutions citizenship clause, as found in the Fourteenth Amendment, we can find no constitutional authority to grant such citizenship to persons born to non-American citizens within the limits of the United States of America.
We are, or should be, familiar with the phrase, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the States wherein they reside.” This can be referred to as the citizenship clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, but what does “subject to the jurisdiction” mean? Jurisdiction can take on different meanings that can have nothing to do with physical boundaries alone–and if the framers meant geographical boundaries they would have simply used the term “limits” rather than “jurisdiction” since that was the custom at the time when distinguishing between physical boundaries and reach of law.
Complete jurisdiction thereof means Not owing allegiance to anybody else. That is what it means. 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 accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons born to parents who at the time were subject to the authority of the United States, and in other words born within the jurisdiction of the United States of parents not owing allegiance to any foreign sovereignty.
What does it all mean?
In a nutshell, it means this: The constitution of the United States does not grant citizenship at birth to just anyone who happens to be born within American borders. It is the allegiance (complete jurisdiction) of the child’s birth parents at the time of birth that determines the child’s citizenship–not geographical location. If the United States does not have complete jurisdiction, for example, to compel a child’s parents to Jury Duty – then the U.S. does not have the total, complete jurisdiction demanded by the Fourteenth Amendment to make their child a citizen of the United States by birth. How could it possibly be any other way?
The framers succeeded in their desire to remove all doubt as to what persons are or are not citizens of the United States. They also succeeded in making both their intent and construction clear for future generations of courts and government. Whether our government or courts will start to honor and uphold the supreme law of the land for which they are obligated to by oath, is another very disturbing matter.