14th Amendment increases problems with illegal immigration

October 4, 2010 — by Anika Jhalani

The very first lines of the 14th amendment to the United States Constitution read, "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." This simple sentence has sparked a debate over the possible solutions and complications surrounding one of America's most controversial issues: illegal immigration. The 14th amendment, which introduces birthright citizenship, has encouraged some illegal immigrants to try to have children in the United States, which has created a host of problems for our nation.

Illegal immigration is an issue that has plagued our nation for too long; it has created racist barriers, driven states into debt and caused Americans to contradict the very principles their country was founded upon. The catalyst for this ongoing problem has been abuse of the 14th amendment, which guarantees birthright citizenship.

The 14th amendment, which was established after the civil war to provide equal rights to former slaves, has exacerbated the problem of illegal immigration because it established the idea of "birth right" citizenship, a concept that created a myriad of problems regarding illegal immigration in the United States.

The most obvious problem with birthright citizenship is that it encourages illegal immigrants to try to have children in the United States. Immigrants know that their children will be granted full United States citizenship if born on American soil, and therefore will have access to welfare and other state social programs. These babies, called "anchor babies," help illegal alien parents escape deportation, and are being subsidized with taxpayer money. Although these parents are not offered citizenship, they do have a chance to live with their American born children until they reach the age of 21, after which they are at risk of deportation. This lose-lose situation costs money to maintain, and is immoral because families can be split up after the children reach adult age.

The costs involved with illegal immigration grow every year and will continue to escalate if the interpretation of the 14th amendment is not altered. The Federation for American Immigration Reform estimates that the births of children of illegal aliens costs nearly $6 billion, which are funded mainly through Medicaid programs, federal money and American taxpayers.

In addition to the costs of their births, these "anchor babies" will drain an estimated $5 billion for education, including bilingual studies and special needs. According to the California Department of Social Services, California, which has a high concentration of illegal immigrants, pays an estimated $553 million for welfare to support this group.

The costs of maintaining these illegal aliens are extremely high, and the only solution to the problem is to address one of the causes of the increasing influx of immigration: the 14th amendment. With this amendment attached to our constitution, Americans are inviting illegal immigrants to stay in our nation, increase taxes to support the growing illegal alien population and take jobs and education funding that is deserved only by legal American citizens.

The complications caused by illegal immigration don't stop at the fiscal level, but lead to racist laws against an entire ethnic group. For instance, the recent Arizona immigration law, SB 1070, allows police officers to force citizens to produce their proof of residence if there is "reasonable suspicion" that they are staying in the country illegally. Even though illegal immigration has gone too far in our country, we cannot retaliate with such immoral laws.

When examining solutions, there are two emerging perspectives on how to deal with the 14th amendment. The more popular of the two is a traditional constitutional amendment requiring at least one parent to be a U.S. citizen or at the very least, a lawful permanent resident for a baby to qualify for citizenship. The other is to pass federal or state legislation, which may just further escalate the battle over the birthright citizenship clause.

Birthright citizenship has been a disaster. We have wasted money on undocumented people, and have encouraged them to come and drain our wallets by waving the idea of citizenship upon birth in their faces. The 14th amendment needs to be reconsidered, even amended, to clear all ambiguity regarding birthright citizenship, and solve one of our nation's largest ongoing issues.

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