Following the release of presidential candidate Donald Trump’s proposed immigration policies, a national debate has been sparked regarding the 14th Amendment to the Constitution and the idea of birthright citizenship.
Many have argued that the 14th Amendment infers automatic citizenship upon any person born within the United States, even if the person’s parents are in the country illegally.
This has led to the use of the term “anchor babies” to describe such persons, as the citizenship they are granted upon birth acts as an anchor to keep the family from being deported, despite their lack of legal status.
But that simply isn’t what was intended by the 14th Amendment, as proven by the words of the very man who authored the amendment in 1866, Michigan Sen. Jacob M. Howard.
Howard explained in writing exactly what the scope of the law was when he introduced it, making it quite clear that it was referring to granting citizenship to the recently freed slaves only, not foreigners or even Native Americans.
According to The Federalist Papers Project, Howard wrote, in part, “that every person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States.”