Friday, July 15, 2011

Birthright Citizenship for Children of Diplomats?

New Report Finds 14th Amendment's Limiting Language Has No Practical Effect

The intended scope of the 14th Amendment’s Citizenship Clause has been hotly debated in the context of children born to illegal immigrants. While it appears unlikely that the intent of those who authored the 14th Amendment was to ensure automatic citizenship for children born to illegal and temporary immigrants, some argue that the amendment protects such grants of citizenship.

Amid this debate, however, there is one area of solid agreement among advocates on all sides: at the very least, children born here to foreign diplomats are not “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States and are therefore not to be granted U.S. citizenship. But even that low standard is not being met according to a new Center for Immigration Studies report.

A lack of direction from Congress has resulted in children born to foreign diplomats on U.S. soil receiving U.S. birth certificates and Social Security numbers (SSNs) – effectively becoming U.S. citizens – despite the limiting language within the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment. The report is at

Among the findings:

Despite Congress’s clear intent, the current application of the Citizenship Clause is so lax that the United States has a de facto universal birthright citizenship policy that denies U.S. citizenship by birth to no one.

There is no federal requirement that hospitals ask new parents if they are foreign diplomatic staff. The same birth certificates are issued to all newborns.

The State Department is currently rewriting guidelines on birthright citizenship, signaling a possibly significant departure from current 14th Amendment jurisprudence. The agency claims that children born to foreign diplomats are “entitled to birth certificates.”

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes that children of foreign diplomats are not eligible to receive SSNs, but there is no mechanism to prevent such issuance.

Children of diplomats who receive U.S. birth certificates and SSNs have greater rights and protections than the average U.S. citizen because they can enjoy all of the benefits of U.S. citizenship but also can invoke diplomatic immunity if they break a law. A lack of direction from Congress has created what one might consider a “super citizen” who is above the law.

In order to end the practice of granting automatic U.S. citizenship to children of foreign diplomats, Congress could author regulations requiring declaration of parental diplomatic status on birth certificate request forms. As an alternative, Congress could require parents to have SSNs before a U.S. birth certificate or SSN is issued to a newborn. While this latter proposal might create better results and be more easily administered, it would have the effect of ending automatic birthright citizenship not just for children of diplomats, but also for children of illegal aliens and temporary aliens – an outcome that is more aligned with the intended scope of the 14th Amendment than the outcome created by current practices.

The above is a press release from from Center for Immigration Studies. 1522 K St. NW, Suite 820, Washington, DC 20005, (202) 466-8185 fax: (202) 466-8076. Email: Contact: Jon Feere, (202) 466-8185, The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent research institution which examines the impact of immigration on the United States. The Center for Immigration Studies is not affiliated with any other organization

New Reality Emerging on Illegal Immigration

Maybe -- JR

The United States is a country that has been peopled largely by vast surges of migration -- from the British Isles in the 18th century, from Ireland and Germany in the 19th century, from Eastern and Southern Europe in the early 20th century, and from Latin America and Asia in the last three decades.

Going back in history, almost no one predicted that these surges of migration would begin -- and almost no one predicted that they would stop when they did.

Thus when the 1965 Immigration Reform Act was passed, almost no one predicted that we would have massive immigration from Mexico. Experts told us that immigrants came in large numbers only from Europe.

The experts got that wrong. From 1980 to 2008, more than 5 million Mexicans legally entered the United States. And Mexicans account for about 60 percent of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. today.

Immigration policymakers have assumed that the flow of Mexican immigrants would continue indefinitely at this high level. But now evidence is accumulating that this vast surge of migration is ending.

The Pew Hispanic Center, analyzing Census statistics, has estimated that illegal Mexican entrants have been reduced from 525,000 annually in the 2000-04 years to 100,000 in 2010.

"The flow has already stopped," Douglas Massey of the Mexican Migration Project at Princeton recently told The New York Times. "The net traffic has gone to zero and is probably a little bit negative."

One reason is the deep recession and slow economic recovery here in the United States. Tens of thousands of construction jobs, once plentiful in high-immigration states, have disappeared. Foreclosures on mortgages that should never have been granted have been especially high among Hispanics.

State laws, like Arizona's law requiring use of the federal e-Verify system to check on immigration status of new hires, have clearly had some impact. And the cost of crossing the border illegally has sharply increased.

The Pew Hispanic Center estimates the 2010 illegal population at 11.2 million, down from the 2007 peak of 12.0 million and just about the same level as in 2005. It's probably lower today.

Even more important, things have changed in Mexico. Its birth rate has fallen from 7 children per woman in 1971 to 3.2 in 1990 and 2 in 2010, barely enough to prevent population loss.

Mexico has finally become a majority middle-class country, former Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda argues in his recent book "Manana Forever?" Mexico has more cars and television sets than households now, most Mexicans have credit cards, and there are almost as many cell phones as people.

There has been a boom in higher education, especially in technical schools. The increasing numbers of well-educated Mexicans have no need to go to the United States to live a comfortable and even affluent life. Mexico has grown its way out of poverty.

The historic experience has been that countries cease generating large numbers of immigrants when they reach a certain economic level, as Germany did in the 1880s. Mass migration from Puerto Rico, whose residents are U.S. citizens, ended in the early 1960s, when income levels reached one-third of those on the mainland.

All of which has implications for U.S. immigration policy. It seems clear that tougher enforcement measures, like requiring use of e-Verify, can reduce the number of illegals in the United States. Returning to Mexico is a more attractive alternative than it used to be.

And the desire of legal immigrants to bring in collateral relatives under family reunification provisions is likely to diminish. That means we can shift our immigration quotas to higher-skill immigrants, as recommended by a panel convened by the Brookings Institution and Duke University's Kenan Institute and as done currently by Canada and Australia.

Such a change would be in line with the new situation. Mexican immigrants have tended to be less educated and lower-skill than immigrants from other Latin or Asian countries. Lower Mexican immigration means lower low-skill immigration. Employers of such immigrants may have to adjust their business models.

Probably they are already doing so. But government adjusts more slowly.

Barack Obama has been calling for immigration legislation similar to what George W. Bush sought, legislation geared to a status quo that no longer exists and seems unlikely to return. That's going nowhere. But sooner or later we should adjust the law to address the new emerging reality.


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