by M.C. Ferguson
Clearly the 14th Amendment; Section 1, ratified on July 9, 1868 intended to unify our nation post Civil War; a preamble if you will to usher in Reconstruction and overturn Dred Scott v. Stanford which excluded the right to citizenship for African-Americans. This Constitutional Amendment was ratified just three short years after the Civil War ended and President Lincoln’s assassination.
Article IV; Sec. 1, leaves a broad interpretation in regard to “All persons born or naturalized in the United States,” in part to engrave the Civil Rights Act of 1866 into our Constitution, making it less likely to be undone. The Civil Rights Act of 1866 was aimed at the Freedmen (freed slaves) and was a major policy during Reconstruction. It was vetoed by then President Andrew Johnson, his veto then overridden by Radical Republicans in Congress.
One must consider the mindset of our elected representatives during that era of turmoil and their deep desire to reunify our Nation, representatives who believed in the charter of President Lincoln and those Radical Republicans in Congress, whose moral character mandated that Freedmen had an equal right to citizenship in the eyes of the law.
When the 14th Amendment was drafted, debated and ratified; 37 individual State’s made up the whole of the United States. Of the 13 not yet State’s two of them were border State’s, Arizona and New Mexico. The fundament intent in 1868 of Article IV; Section 1, was amending our Constitution to give African-American slaves what God had already given them, U.S. citizenship.
Granting citizenship to the offspring of individuals who have violated U.S. statute to enter the United States illegally is clearly not the expressed intent of Article IV; Section 1 and should not be applied as law or policy any differently than its original intent, unless clarified and amended by Congress and ratified by all 50 State’s.
Certainly it would be an injustice to deny citizenship too those children born under the broad interpretation and vagueness of the 14th Amendment; Section 1. However, from this point forward and in the future best interest of the United States and her citizens, the offspring of individuals who have violated U.S. statute to gain illegal entrance into the United States should assume the citizenship status of the mother and/or fathers country of origin.