WSJ: Birthright Citizenship: A GOP Achievement
It is unrealistic to believe that we can fix the immigration problem by amending the Constitution.
By CHARLES DJOU
The Citizenship Clause of the Constitution's 14th Amendment provides that a person born in the United States is automatically a citizen, regardless of the race, ethnicity or citizenship status of his parents. Some of my colleagues in Congress would like to change this longstanding rule that grants citizenship by birth. This is a bad idea.
I am the child of immigrants, a citizen by birth, and at age 39 I proudly placed my hand on the Bible and swore to protect our Constitution as a member of the U.S. Congress. My story is not unique. For more than 200 years our ancestors abandoned their homes and risked their lives to come here, work hard, and provide a better life for their families. The opportunity to do so is part of what makes our country the greatest on Earth.
I understand that our immigration system is broken and share the frustration of so many Americans with our porous borders. America needs comprehensive immigration reform; it is critical to our nation's future. But it is simply unrealistic to believe that we can fix the problem by amending the Constitution.
Critics of birthright citizenship cite poll numbers and recent laws passed by European countries limiting citizenship. America is not Europe. Nor should we want to be. Europe has struggled for centuries with assimilating ethnic groups. By contrast, America's unique melting pot of cultures and ethnicities has successfully assimilated new groups in far less time. This assimilation has made the whole nation stronger.
The 14th Amendment is one of the crowning achievements of the Republican Party. Following the Civil War, the 14th Amendment guaranteed due process for every person under the law and helped to reunite a fractured nation. It pains me to think that we may start tinkering with this fundamental fabric of our union.
The problem of illegal immigration is a difficult one, touching deeply held beliefs and emotions. But the president and both parties in Congress have a responsibility to engage in a good-faith effort to reach a consensus on an approach that enforces the law, expands legal immigration, and closes the door on illegal immigration.
In the midst of this complex debate, I have faith that the same political process that created the 14th Amendment can produce sound immigration policy that respects our borders and the people who cross over them. I have faith that "We the people" will ultimately move us closer to a "more perfect union."
Mr. Djou is a Republican congressman from Hawaii.
LA Times: Keeping the 14th Amendment: Political posturing aside, birthright citizenship has served the country well.
WaPo: The Birthright Debate