Subject to the jurisdiction of prejudice

Immigrant children face political obstacles


graphic by Victoria Van

Every six weeks is like a routine. The newspaper staff goes through our usual process. Sit down. Discuss current events. Decide what issue the students care about. Write and publish a story. And like all issues, forget.

But, we can’t forget. How could we when the futures of some of our student body are at risk?

“Anchor babies.” Unwanted. Unwelcomed. Un-American. Children of foreign parents, hated by those who don’t know them. Who don’t know their struggles. Who don’t know the brutality, tyranny and persecution their parents escaped when coming to the United States.

Anchor babies are defined as the children of an illegal immigrant or other noncitizens, who under current legality, become United States citizens at birth. Jus soli, also known as birthright citizenship, ensures that children born in the U.S. are able to participate and contribute as members of society, protected under the 14th amendment. If this, or its interpretation, were to be challenged or revoked, the result would be catastrophic.

Alteration to the 14th Amendment would ensure that generations of individuals would be unable to obtain legal status and could become stateless. Following President Donald Trump’s announcement to abolish jus soli through executive order, conservatives have supported this by arguing that the amendment calls for interpretation.

The Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution states that “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.” This subjugation clause has caused much controversy among politicians and citizens as they argue to whom these babies are subjugated to — the country of the parent or place of birth.  The U.S. Supreme Court, however, has affirmed that the 14th is applicable to all children born on U.S. soil, regardless of parental status.

So if the law is clear and steadfast in its position, why is this an issue?

Trump’s announcement concerning birthright citizenship came just around midterm elections. Republicans were using the 14th amendment to bolster their platform to ensure their election into Congress. Similarly, Democrats were appealing to their voters by vehemently advocating for the rights of anchor babies. Both parties, regardless of their position on birthright citizenship, were using the issue to campaign for the support of their party amid election season. This begs the question: are children now just a political platform to campaign on? Are the lives of these people secondary to politics?

The media and politicians blast the news cycle with the stories of immigrants flooding into the country, taking American jobs from American people and degrading American values. Are the people here not American? Citizens born in this country and “subject to the jurisdiction” of this country are American themselves, so such “American” jobs and values apply to them.

This is not an obscure or inaccessible issue. A neighbor, a best friend, or even your family members may be affected by this change. It is easy for politicians, the media or conservative peers to view immigration as wrong, that anyone who did not come over on the Mayflower or share the same light pigment as you is an illegal immigrant.

Anchor babies usually evoke the image of Hispanics fleeing Mexico by the mass. The media has portrayed these immigrants as rapists, terrorists, drug dealers, all coming to steal our jobs and hurt our citizens. In a study by Pew Research Center, however, it was revealed that the largest group of immigrants is not from Mexico, but from Asia. The basis of the argument surrounding citizenship under the guise that anchor babies are illegal, or from Mexico, or are criminals is built entirely of Trump’s inaccurate notions of immigration. One cannot seriously form an educated and logical argument to debase the 14th Amendment if the supplied information is fake.

Illegal immigration remains a debated issue among politicians and citizens alike. Scapegoating children of foreign parents, however, does not serve a logical argument for their political base or go to serve your re-election efforts. Condemning children of foreign parents for being born to such is not a bullet point in a rally speech, but a discussion over the rights for American children.