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Is Changing Birthright Citizenship the Answer?

While immigration is in the news on almost a daily basis and is becoming a firestorm issue for the upcoming 2016 Presidential election, a recent amendment by Senator David Vitter of Louisiana was an interesting addition to the current debate. In a clear attempt to redefine the meaning of the Fourteenth amendment in order to prevent the children of undocumented immigrants from receiving citizenship, Senator Vitter offered an amendment to Senate bill 178 limiting birthright US citizenship only if the person is born in the United States and at least 1 of the person's parents is--

(1) a citizen or national of the United States;

(2) an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States whose residence is in the United States; or

(3) an alien performing active service in the armed forces

While altering the fundamental rights provided by the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution can certainly be debated in an open public discourse, burying such a amendment in the middle of a Senate Bill that deals largely with victims of human trafficking, while also excluding the children of individuals that heavily contribute to the strength of the country's fabric seems incredibly short-sighted. While Senator Vitter is more than free to introduce such an amendment to the Senate Bill, such a fundamental change to the country's bedrock observation of citizenship (14th Amendment was adopted in 1868 following the notorious Dred Scott decision from the US Supreme Court) would gut one of the cornerstones of the American civil rights movement. Such a marked change would be better served through a thorough and vigorous public discourse and not simply through an subtle Senate amendment.

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