By Prarthana Mitra
In a controversial announcement this week, US Donald Trump said that the days of birthright citizenship for second-generation immigrants may soon be over.
Here’s what happened
Expressing his wish to sign an executive order as soon as possible, Trump called for an end to the automatic conferment of citizenship that children of non-citizens and unauthorised immigrants have enjoyed so far. The 14th Amendment, thus far, protects the birthright of individuals born in on US soil, to parents on temporary or invalid visas.
In the interview that will be included in a tele-documentary, Trump said with some displeasure, “We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in, has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years with all of those benefits,” a proclamation that is not altogether accurate. There are a handful of other countries which offer the same privilege to settlers and refugees.
“It’s ridiculous. And it has to end,” Trump vociferously said, in the interview with HBO.
About the law
The law he hopes to revoke was enacted in 1868, deriving from the concept of jus soli (‘right of the soil’) as laid down in the Constitution. Enacted after the Civil War, it aimed to legalise the citizenship of people of colour (and their families), after the abolition of slavery.
According to it, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”
What happens next
The executive order is certain to face numerous challenges especially legal ones, just like his previous foreign policies banning the entry of Muslims from certain nations into the US and the monstrous family separation policy at the Mexico border have. Its impact on India could foreclose or at least deliver a setback to permanent emigration, if the citizenship of second generation diaspora is not guaranteed.
Alternatively, this could simply be Trump playing hardball to appeal to his anti-immigrant vote bank, in the run-up to the midterm elections on November 6. However, he did manage to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) aka Dreamers programme after much outcry in 2017.
Importantly enough, this latest announcement comes at a time when a mammoth caravan of Honduran immigrants are stationed at the southern border, poised to enter the US despite Trump’s repeated attempts at villainising them and labelling it as a threat to national security.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.
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