Jonathan Turley is a constitutional professor at the prestigious George Washington University and he says that doing away with birthright citizenship is not racist and in fact would be in keeping with the constitution, particularly the 14th Amendment.
In order to understand what he means, you need only read the first sentence of the first section of the 14th Amendment.
“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.”
The key is the words, “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” That’s because illegal aliens are subjects of the country they come from not the states in which they live.
“At the time it was written, the sponsors expressly stated its purpose as protecting freed slaves and not the offspring of foreign citizens. Republican Senator Jacob Howard, who was a coauthor of the 14th Amendment, said that it was ‘simply declaratory’ of the Civil Rights Act to protect freed slaves. He assured senators, ‘This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, or who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers.’”
Another drafter of the amendment, Illinois Republican Sen. Lyman Trumbull, was even more explicit, according to Turley. Trumbull “stressed that the six words only included those ‘not owing allegiance to anyone else,’” Turley wrote.
That makes it pretty clear that the actual men who devised the 14th Amendment never intended it to open American citizenship to those whose parents were not themselves citizens or at least lawful residents of the country.
Meanwhile, where the Supreme Court has ruled on 14th Amendment questions, Turley wrote, the results have not been conclusive.
Some high court decisions from the 19th century leaned toward restricting the amendment’s application. But the 1898 case of U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark established that the court “affirms the ancient and fundamental rule of citizenship by birth within the territory, in the allegiance and protection of the country, including all children here born of resident aliens.”
That’s the ruling supporters of birthright citizenship roll out, the big guns of the argument. But as Turley pointed out, there’s a huge caveat: The parents in that case were legal residents of the United States.
For anyone to pretend then that the decision is a rock-solid precedent governing questions of illegal residents of the United States is to deny reality.