Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Lt. Col. Margaret Stock on Birthright Citizenship

Margaret Stock, a member of the Federalist Society, has a thoughtful analysis of the problems with any change to the current rules of birthright citizenship at Talking Justice.  Stock is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Military Police Corps, U.S. Army Reserve; and an Associate Professor in the Department of Social Sciences at the U.S. Military Academy.  The piece concludes that 

"Even if one accepts that a foreigner in the United States only temporarily or illegally is not “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States—an interpretation that the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security would dispute, as it might deprive them of authority to prosecute and expel such persons—the policy implications of changing the current interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment are significant. Without the current, simple interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment, the government would have to adjudicate the citizenship status of every child born within US borders based on the exceedingly complex rules of derivative citizenship, or citizenship by blood. Currently, DHS takes more than a year to make such determinations, and the process is expensive and fraught with error. As a result of the law’s complexity, DHS often takes into custody and attempts to deport many derivative citizens on the mistaken notion that they are foreigners. DHS keeps no statistical records on how many citizens it has erroneously tried to deport, but news accounts indicate that the numbers are substantial. A new interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment will increase these numbers substantially. Thus, changing the longstanding interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment may in the end only benefit immigration lawyers, while adding yet another layer of complexity to the lives of ordinary Americans who seek driver’s licenses, passports, mortgage loans, or even the opportunity to vote in the next state or federal election."



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