The recently revived debate about birthright citizenship is both ridiculous and baffling. The language of the Constitution is quite clear: “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.” Commonly known as the “Citizenship Clause”, it is the first sentence of Section 1 of the 14th Amendment, passed in 1868.
This understanding of the 14th Amendment was codified four years later in 1871 in the case, Wong Kim Ark which granted citizenship “to at least some children born of foreigners because they were born on American soil (a concept known as jus soli)”. It is also worth noting that at the time of the Amendment, there was no such thing as illegal immigration, so the legal status of the parents was not an issue; the first law restricting immigration came in 1875.
The Constitution is clear, and there is no way to change it. There should be, and probably is in some way, a law against the budding practice known as “birth tourism”, which allows for a woman to come travel to this country — on a tourist visa — for the sole purpose of having a baby on American soil so that the child can be granted U.S. citizenship. Coming into the country with the intent to subvert the Constitution could be made a crime if it is not already so. For instance, the child will still be granted citizenship, but the parents become criminals — and can never come back to this country.
For those whose parents are here for some time, even if the parents are illegal, the law is clear: their birth in this country confers U.S. citizenship. But if you come here intentionally to subvert the law, the consequences should be so severe, that it makes people think twice about doing it. That should cut down on the amount of rogue circumstances for which people try to gain citizenship with no intent to reside in this country, while simultaneously protecting the 14th Amendment.