In a resolution passed by voice vote at a conference this week in Toronto, the American Bar Association recommended the U.S. Senate reject proposed legislation to repeal birthright citizenship.
Under current law, all people born on U.S. soil are granted citizenship. However, this law has recently come under legal scrutiny. Prior to voting on its resolution, the ABA heard arguments from lawyers with different interpretations of the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment.
The clause states, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the state wherein they reside.”
John Eastman, professor of law at Chapman University, said Congress should weigh in on the meaning of the clause. He said the phrase “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” implies that only children born to full citizens or legal immigrants are to be granted automatic citizenship.
Outgoing American Bar Association President Stephen Zack told The Associated Press the Constitution is clear in its meaning, and legislation to repeal birthright citizenship is motivated by racism.
The legislation in question, introduced by Republican Senators David Vitter of Louisiana and Rand Paul of Kentucky, stipulates that people born in the U.S. will only be considered citizens if their parents are full citizens, legal immigrants or members of the armed forces.