Wednesday, August 18, 2010
the tension between America’s democratic ideals and its long history of racism on the question of citizenship lurks behind any discussion of the 14th Amendment. Until its ratification, immigration and naturalization were limited to white persons. Even after its passage, Native American children, though subject to U.S. jurisdiction, were typically declared members of a separate racial and national group and therefore not eligible for citizenship. Asians were for years denied the opportunity to seek citizenship and for a period were barred from even entering the country. Although African Americans gained citizenship through the 14th Amendment, the same Supreme Court that decided Wong Kim Ark limited their rights with the “separate but equal” doctrine of Plessy v Ferguson.
Goode discusses the roots of the Fourteenth Amendment citizenship clause in the common law principle of jus soli as well as the subsequent birthright citizenship discussions in the Civil Rights Act.
This is an article worth reading, even if you think you understand the debate, and even if you think you don't.