Constitution Daily

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Podcast: The 14th Amendment and birthright citizenship

August 20, 2015 by NCC Staff


640px-San_Jose_May_Day_01The Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment is as follows: “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 issue of birthright citizenship has a long and complex history in the United States. Current debate concerns the children of immigrants living in the United States illegally. Are these children are entitled to full, automatic U.S. citizenship, regardless of their parents’ immigration status?


Some prominent voices think not. In an appearance on The O’Reilly Factor, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump suggested he would challenge the citizenship granted to such children living in the U.S. now. “Many lawyers are saying that’s not the way it is in terms of this,” he said of the 14th Amendment. “It’s not going to hold up in court, it’s going to have to be tested.”


Whatever the answer, we know it matters. According to the Pew Research Center, 340,000 of the 4.3 million babies born in the United States in 2008 were the offspring of unauthorized immigrants; in total, 4 million U.S.-born children of unauthorized immigrant parents resided in this country in 2009.


Two experts in constitutional law joined the National Constitution Center’s Jeffrey Rosen to shed light on this important issue.


Bernadette Meyler is the Carl and Sheila Spaeth Professor of Law at Stanford Law School, where she is a scholar of British and American constitutional law and of law and the humanities. She also participated in an April 2015 conference at the Center about the Declaration of Independence.


William Mayton is the Thomas J. Simmons Professor Emeritus of Law at the Emory University School of Law, where he taught constitutional and administrative law for many years. He is also author of the forthcoming book, The Sustainers: Citizens of the United States, which deals heavily with the 14th Amendment.


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This show was engineered by Jason Gregory and produced by Nicandro Iannacci. Research was provided by Lana Ulrich and Danieli Evans.


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