Has Donald Trump Found a Loophole?

Immigration is not just an issue in the U.S., it’s a worldwide problem. Refugees fleeing upheaval and terrorism in the Middle East and Africa are flooding the European continent. They are coming from Syria, Eritrea, Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Sudan and heading for Germany, Britain, France, and Scandinavia. To do so, they submit to harsh conditions aboard rickety, overcrowded boats. They are often beaten and starved, many suffocate or even drown. So far this year, more than 2,300 people have died at sea.

Where will these people go, and can Europe handle the influx without being overwhelmed?

In 2014, Germany took in 174,000 asylum seekers. This year, the projection is 500,000. Hungary has already received 130,000 migrants. That’s three times the amount in 2014. Greece took in 158,400 so far this year–including 50,000 in July alone. Italy’s total for 2015 is 103,000.

Now, what about America? When Donald Trump released his immigration reform proposals, he hit a nerve because the U.S. has had runaway immigration for 30 years. Some believe it’s more of a problem than ISIS.

According to The Center for Immigration Studies, the U.S. immigrant population has increased 4.1 million since 2011; half of that number have come from Latin America; a quarter from Mexico. We have 42.1 million immigrants, which represents 13 percent of our total population–of those, 360,000 are known criminal aliens.

Trump has summed up our situation like this:

A nation without borders is not a nation. There must be a wall across the southern border.

A nation without laws is not a nation. Laws passed in accordance with our Constitutional system of government must be enforced.

A nation that does not serve its own citizens is not a nation. Any immigration plan must improve jobs, wages and security for all Americans.

To put it another way, Trump says “we are the only country in the world whose immigration system puts the needs of other nations ahead of our own.” He has proposed mass deportation, building a wall, and restrictions on several visa programs. He would triple the number of border agents, use E-Verify, and eliminate sanctuary cities. His critics vocally scoff at the most audacious aspect, which is ending “birthright citizenship.” They believe this is enshrined in the 14th Amendment of the Constitution:

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. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Trump not only wants to end birthright citizenship, he wants to send back so-called “anchor babies,” who, along with their parents, have taken up residence in the U.S. How can he do that? Has Trump, self-proclaimed expert at contracts, found a loophole? Perhaps he has found two.

1. The current reading of this Amendment uses the word “jurisdiction” to mean something plainly different from its original meaning. “Subject to the jurisdiction thereof,” carried a sense of the complete allegiance inherent in citizenship, which goes beyond merely being subject to American laws. 
Every person present in the United States – citizen or not, legally present or not – is subject to the jurisdiction of the United States in the narrow sense of being expected to follow our laws, yet all are not presumed to have loyalty to the U.S.

2. There are already exceptions to the 14th Amendment: U.S.-born children of foreign diplomats are not citizens. In fact, at the time the Amendment was written, U.S.-born children of “First Nation/Native Americans” were not citizens. An act of Congress granted them citizenship in 1924.

If we go back to the original intent of the law, we see what truly qualifies a person for citizenship. We might ask ourselves, Is it citizenship the happenstance of one’s birth geography–or a matter of national allegiance, loyalty, and fealty? Mr. Trump may really have something here.

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