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In the United States, citizenship is acquired through several ways. A citizen accesses certain rights, responsibilities, privileges and advantages. Citizenship is a situation whereby an individual is legally residing in an area and can accesses the various rights in the area. Examples of rights that are entrusted to an individual include the right to life, rights to work in the area and live at any location within the country. A citizen of the United States also has the privilege to get help from the federation and access the services from the government.
Many people who are seeking to work and live legally in the states have often undergone naturalization that grants them this privilege. Another thing that is accepted in the United States is multiple citizenship. This simply means that a citizen from another country may also gain citizenship in the U.S. and at the same time retain his citizenship of the country of origin.
A certain clause-Citizenship Clause-of the constitution of the U.S., gives the conditions to which a person may become a citizen. The Fourteenth Amendment of this clause gave any individual, who is born in the U.S., automatic citizenship (Nelson 16). Citizenship could also be acquired through naturalization. However, this provision has been debated a lot due to the realization that illegal immigrants have abused it.
The issue of birthright citizenship
The 14th amendment to the constitution gave citizenship to those persons who were born and naturalized in the U.S. This also gave birthright citizenship to those born there (Chin and Abraham, p. 26). There has been an issue surrounding this amendment of the constitution since illegal immigrants in the U.S. have given birth to children in order for them to be citizens automatically. Another rare situation has also been observed and this has been called birth tourism. This is whereby a foreigner travels to the United State for a short period for the sole reason of giving birth in the U.S. in order to guarantee the citizenship of the child.
This has been a big issue and it has led to many debates among the republicans. The authorities suggested that the Fourteenth Amendment should either be amended again or be interpreted in order to bring to an end the birthright citizenship that had previously been enjoyed and abused.
In January 2011, a number of legislators in the United States from various states announced that they intended to incorporate bills in the legislature in order to eliminate the protection provided by the Fourteenth Amendment. This had guaranteed universal citizenship. These changes would lead to citizenship being looked at on a state-to-state basis. This meant that citizenship would not be viewed in terms of federal sovereignty.
These propositions would lead to state citizenship that would provide conditions that are very different from those that were set previously. If the changes were to be made effective, it would mean disaster to many babies that are to be born in the U.S. This would mean that the babies would not get access to the standard birth certificates. The only condition that would guarantee a standard birth certificate to a child is if one of the parents is a legal citizen of the United States or an active member in the army. Citizenship would also be given to a child whose parent is a naturalized legal citizen. However, doors are closed to the rest (Levy, p. 32).
Examples of states that are seeking to make changes to the legislation and undermine the constitution include Oklahoma, Arizona, Indiana, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Mississippi and Montana. In Arizona, for example, citizenship would only be given to children born with at least one parent who is a citizen or a legal resident of the United States. Different birth certificates would be provided depending on the legal status of the child’s parents. On the other hand, Montana seeks to change the requirements for citizenship and deny citizenship to children from parents with dual citizenship.
In the event that the constitutional definition of the issue of citizenship is changed, it would mean disaster to all Americans. This is because being born in the United States alone would not be sufficient to prove that the child is a citizen. All individuals in the U.S. would need to prove their status in order to get the standard birth certificate for the child. This would also mean that great costs would be imposed to the government and this would make a dent to the economy (Chemerinsky, p. 4).
The Fourteenth Amendment to the United State constitution assured citizenship to all babies born in the soils of the state. This was granted to anyone regardless of whether the person was an immigrant or not. This was a way of providing rights to all those who were born in the United States. However, this privilege has been greatly abused by people seeking to gain citizenship for their children using the illegal means. This has caused many people to visit the United States for all the wrong reasons. Suggestions on the need for amendment have been forwarded and have caused debate to stir. If the changes were to be made to the constitution, this would mean a great loss to most Americans and those who acquired citizenship through illegal means.
- Chemerinsky, Erwin. “The constitution, Obama and raising the debt ceiling.” Los Angeles Times 2011: 5. Print.
- Chin, Gabriel, and Anjali Abraham. “Beyond the supermajority: Post-adoption ratification of the Equality Amendments.” Arizona Law Review 50.1 (2004): 25-28. Print.
- Levy, Leonard. Fourteenth Amendment and the Bill of Rights: The incorporation theory. New York: Da Capo Press, 1970. Print.
- Nelson, William. The Fourteenth Amendment: From political principle to judicial doctrine. Harvard: Harvard University Press, 1998. Print.