-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA) claims that birthright citizenship “undermines the intention of the Fourteenth Amendment.” Arizona Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills alleged that “if you go back to the original intent of the drafters … it was never intended to bestow citizenship upon aliens.” Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) trots out the old canard that the Citizenship Clause was drafted to “address slavery, not immigration.”
When one looks at the 1866 Senate debate regarding the 14th Amendment, the facts don’t support these claims.
In 1866, the anchor babies of concern were Chinese. Senator Edgar Cowan (R-PA), who later voted against the amendment, was worried about Gypsies in Pennsylvania and Chinese in California overrunning the country if their children were granted citizenship.
Senator John Conness (R-CA) understood the amendment’s meaning to extend birthright citizenship to the children of Chinese immigrants:
The proposition before us … relates simply in that respect to the children begotten of Chinese parents in California, and it is proposed to declare that they shall be citizens. … I am in favor of doing so. … We are entirely ready to accept the provision proposed in this constitutional amendment, that the children born here of Mongolian parents shall be declared by the Constitution of the United States to be entitled to civil rights and to equal protection before the law with others.
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, claimed “During the debate on the 14th Amendment in 1866, a senator who helped draft the amendment said it would ‘not of course include persons born in the United States who are foreigners.’” This is nothing short of deceptive editing of Senator Howard Jacob (R-MI), who authored the amendment. Senator Jacob affirmed its plain meaning:
This amendment which I have offered is simply declaratory of what I regard as the law of the land already, 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. This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons. [Emphasis added]
When politicians lie and distort history to this extent, they conceal the true motivation behind their desire to deny birthright citizenship to children of illegal immigrants. If their intentions are honorable, why lie about the original intent of the 14th Amendment?