As originally written, the citizenship clause in the Fourteenth Amendment was intended to guarantee citizenship to all freed slaves. However, a gross misinterpretation of the amendment has created an attractive incentive for illegal immigration.
When observing the debate surrounding the ratification of the amendment, it is clear that the authors intended only to grant citizenship to persons born here who were "subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States. In fact, one of the authors, Senator Jacob Howard, stated that the Fourteenth Amendment would: "not include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors, or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons."
The authors also understood the phrase "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" to have the same meaning as the phrase "and not subject to any foreign Power," included in the Civil Rights Act of 1866. It would be difficult to argue that illegal immigrants and temporary visitors are not subject to a foreign power or that they do not owe allegiance to anybody but the United States.
We must also end birthright citizenship for children of illegal immigrants because it costs American taxpayers billions annually. At present, our national debt is rapidly approaching a record $14 trillion. At the same time, one study found that illegal immigration costs taxpayers up to $113 billion each year and automatic citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants is contributing to this astronomical cost.
In the same paper California Assemblyman Mike Eng (D) argues against the measure, citing the experience of the Chinese in America:
The xenophobic Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the only law in U.S. history that explicitly prohibited entry into America on the basis of race and nationality, prevented them from stepping foot into the country. The Act was part of a widespread campaign to drive out predominantly low-wage Chinese immigrant workers, who were accused of driving down wages for "real Americans" and for failing to assimilate.
Consequently, Chinese immigrants ostensibly became the first undocumented immigrant population in the United States. After the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, there was just one method by which most could gain entry to the U.S.: by becoming "paper sons" - erasing their real names, family ties and ancestral connections, and adopting false identities claiming to be the overseas offspring of Chinese who were already in the United States.
The current birthright citizenship debate resurrects the malicious spirit of the Chinese Exclusion Act. It is unfortunate that in today's ugly debate around immigration, an immigrant child is not seen as a symbol of hope, but as an "anchor baby," demonized as a way for parents to gain legal status in the United States. The legal reality is that these parents still face deportation, even if they have U.S.-born citizen children. In fact, the Department of Homeland Security has deported more than 100,000 parents of children who are U.S. citizens.