Argument: Past efforts to end birthright citizenship relied on xenophobia

Issue Report: Birthright citizenship for children of illegal immigrants


Greg Robinson. “Repealing Birthright Citizenship Wasn’t a Good Idea Back in the Forties Either.” History News Network. August 16th, 2010: “during 1942-43 California nativists sought to use wartime anti-Japanese public sentiment to abolish universal birthright citizenship. Their arguments revealed a fundamental motivation of white supremacy, and the ACLU and NAACP recognized the implications. While today racial equality is widely accepted, and public anxieties about immigration no longer center on Asians, it is worth remembering why the principle of birthright citizenship is valuable and the consequences of abolishing it unpredictable.”

Linda Chavez. “The Case For Birthright Citizenship.” Wall Street Journal. August 11th, 2010: “The most serious challenge to birthright citizenship for the children of aliens came in 1898, and it involved a class of aliens who were every bit as unpopular as present-day illegal immigrants: the Chinese. Like most illegal immigrants today, the Chinese came here to work as common laborers, eagerly recruited by employers but often deeply resented by the workers with whom they competed. This popular resentment, coupled with racial prejudice, led to America’s first immigration restriction law, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. It was followed by successively more restrictive federal and state laws that denied Chinese aliens—and, later, other Asians—the right to own property, to marry, to return to the U.S. if they left, or to become American citizens.”