Citizenship denied: the real 14th Amendment

Published 9:00 am Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Last week when Donald Trump got into a war of words with Jorge Ramos, the Miami-based anchor for Univision (the nation’s leading Spanish-language network) over immigration policy during a news conference held in Iowa, the Republican presidential candidate was accused of not understanding the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Trump has not minced any words during his political campaign about the millions of illegal aliens residing in the U.S. He wants to end automatic citizenship for infants born in the United States to parents in the country illegally.

Even the right-leaning Fox News didn’t rush to Trump’s defense. They too believed the 14th Amendment served as a savior for all the “anchor” babies born in the US to individuals here illegally. The web describes an anchor baby as an offensive way to reference a child born to a noncitizen mother in a country which has birthright citizenship, especially when viewed as providing an advantage to family members seeking to secure citizenship or legal residency.

However, Harold Pease (Ph. D) agrees with Trump. Pease is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. He has taught history and political science for over 30 years at Taft College. In his interpretation of the wording in the 14th Amendment, Pease claims that birthright citizenship does not exist in the Constitution.

Pease said, like others, he has sympathy for those who were infants or born here when their parents illegally crossed the border and have lived here all their lives and know no other country. And for their protection by way of the 14th Amendment, to the casual reader it seems to validate such protection.

The 14th Amendment reads: “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.”

However, Pease said that the phase “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” is the proverbial “smoking gun” that denies those babies automatic citizenship in the USA. He said the general purpose of adding that certain phrase into the final wording of the Amendment was to guarantee citizenship to freed slaves and their descendants after the Civil War.

According to Pease’s research, Senator Jacob Merritt Howard, architect of the 14th Amendment, actually structured the Amendment (one of two defining the legal status of freed slaves after the Civil War, the other being the 13th which gave them freedom) to prevent that very interpretation. Merritt said: “This amendment which I have offered is simply declaratory of what I regard as the law of the land already, that every person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States. This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign minister accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons.”

With that understood, Pease maintains that those sneaking across our borders in the cover of darkness are clearly foreigners, and not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, and thus are specifically exempted from citizenship.

“Those crossing our borders illegally have jurisdiction or allegiance elsewhere and thus cannot have citizenship.  How can a child of such a parentage have what his parents clearly do not have,” Pease noted. “What do we mean by complete jurisdiction thereof?  Not owing allegiance to anybody else. That is what it means.”

How many are born illegally in the United States per year?  Statistics are difficult to validate but the Pew Hispanic Center study estimated 340,000 in 2008 alone.  If they in turn are used as sponsors for their parents in their quest for citizenship, such could be a million per year.

And there’s one other item that Pease so accurately noted, saying that many Mexicans send portions of their checks south of the border and plan to return to their native land upon retirement with pensions and/or social security sent to their “first” country from the country they extracted the wealth – the United States.

All the while, those of us who are natural citizens of the USA and work hard for what we have are forced to sit and watch while our tax dollars are siphoned off for the well being of those here illegally. And what makes that such a bitter pill to swallow is that our President and others condone it.

Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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