Birth Rights for Immigrant Children

Immigrant Born Children Deserve Rights
In the United States today someone can become a citizen through the process of being born to parents with American citizenship or simply being born on U.S. soil. These two processes stem from the ideals of jus soli and jus sanguinis, each latin for right of soil and right of blood, respectively. But children born to unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. comprise a different category. An estimated 340,000 or 8% of the 4.3 million babies born in the United States in 2008 were children to illegal aliens (Passel and Taylor 1). Being born on US soil the notion of jus soli applies, automatically making the children U.S. citizens, despite their parents’ illegality. Some feel that these children are undeserving of their citizenship, and should be stripped of their rights as citizens and deported with their parents. This is an unjust belief that causes developmental harm to children and strips them of their rights as American citizens. In 1868 following the Civil War the 14th amendment to the constitution was ratified. The amendment states, “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” (Amendments to the U.S. Constitution 30). To simplify, the amendment guarantees the rights of citizenship to anyone born on U.S. soil. The amendment was created with slaves in mind given the time frame of when it was ratified, but that shouldn’t make it carry any less weight in present day. The United States was founded by immigrants seeking the opportunity for a better life. Deporting immigrant parents separates families and can lead to American born children having to relocate to under developed countries. Tomas Isidoro is one of 46,486 illegal immigrants who were deported in late 2011 who had American born children (Cave 1 qtd. From Morton 5). Isidoro’s son, Jeffrey became an American citizen via jus soli, but was forced to leave with his family to Mexico to follow his father after he was deported (Cave 1). Between 2005-2010 1.4 million people immigrated back to Mexico, and of those 1.4 million 300,000 were American born children (Passel et al. 1). Children aren’t always fully aware of the choices their parents make, and shouldn’t be forced to be face the consequences of deportation. Children born in America deserve the right to stay in their homes with opportunities for their families to be come naturalized citizens. According to a Pew Hispanic report, 45% of illegal immigrants live in a household with a spouse and child or children (Passel and Taylor 3). Of those 45%, 37% are parents to American citizens (Passel and Taylor 3). Immigrants who have come to the U.S. and started families have provided better opportunities for their children than staying in their native countries could have yielded. Children of families forced to return to Mexico struggle with many obstacles such as language barriers and adapting to school in rural areas. Most areas that receive new arrivals aren’t fully equipped to handle American citizens, and bar children from entering school’s because they lack proper documents (Cave 1). Growing up in an American school system doesn’t allow much practice for Spanish, after returning children can be made to feel left out when lessons are completely in Spanish or that’s all others speak. Graciela Trevino Gonzalez returned to Malinalco three years ago and was unable to get her son on a soccer team without proper Mexican identification. “The kids called him ‘leche,’ ‘gringo’ — it was awful,” said Gonzalez (Cave 1). Leche in spanish means milk and gringo can hold numerous...

Cited: Yoshikawa, hirokazu. Immigrants Raising Citizens: Undocumented Parents and Their Young Children. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2011.
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