Modern Republicans and the 14th Amendment

dead republican elephantThe 14th Amendment was passed after the Civil War in 1868 by a Republican-controlled Congress as part of the Reconstruction Amendments, which were designed to prevent discrimination and protect the civil rights of all Americans.  It includes a Citizenship Clause wherein it declares 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.”

Several Republican presidential candidates have recently called for the end of birthright citizenship, as it is defined in the 14th Amendment, because they complain it encourages undocumented immigrants to enter the country to have “anchor babies.”

Republican front-runner Donald Trump, for example, has called for a legal test case to see if Congress has the power to deny automatic citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants because of the amendment’s phrase “subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” Other Republican candidates have called for a constitutional amendment to revise the 14th Amendment.

I know from firsthand experience that anchor babies are real problem, but I don’t think we need to go so far as to tamper with the 14th Amendment to solve it, as there are better options.

But I think modern Republicans have a bigger problem to address than anchor babies. I’m talking about how ignorant most of them are about their own party’s political history, and how distant their current opinions are from it.


On October 30, 2018, President Donald Trump announced he was going to sign an executive order to end birthright citizenship. He claimed, “We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States.” Like many of Trump’s claims, this was false, as numerous countries provide birthright citizenship. Most legal scholars believe the courts will find the executive order to be an illegal violation of the 14th Amendment.

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