Does the 14th Amendment Grant Citizenship to Children of Foreigners?

Today, most people believe that children of illegal aliens who are born in the United States are automatically conferred citizenship by virtue of the 14th Amendment. American politicians regularly pontificate on this topic, basing their positions on constitutional and humanitarian grounds. The issue is considered settled by the federal courts, which have announced continually that this passage was meant to grant citizenship to the children of all foreigners and aliens.

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The Constitution and Birthright Citizenship

The short version is this: The first sentence of the Fourteenth Amendment conveys U.S. citizenship on all persons “born … in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” Obviously we are talking here about persons “born … in the United States.” Thus the children of illegal aliens are not U.S. citizens only if they are not “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States.

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Natural Born Citizens and Minor v Happersett

I had an interesting exchange by email with a reader I’ll identify (at his request) just as TJ, an independent researcher, about the original meaning of “natural born citizen” and my views expressed in this post.  We’ve covered a lot of ground so I’m just going to pick out a part of it here, regarding the Supreme Court’s 1874 decision in Minor v. Happersett.

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