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14th amendment

Received: 14Sep2010

The Intent Of The 14th Amendment

In 1866, Senator Jacob Howard (the author of the 14th amendment) clearly spelled out the intent of the 14th Amendment by stating:
"Every person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States. This will not, of course, 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. It settles the great question of citizenship and removes all doubt as to what persons are or are not citizens of the United States. This has long been a great desideratum in the jurisprudence and legislation of this country."

This understanding was reaffirmed by Senator Edward Cowan, who stated:
"[A foreigner in the United States] has a right to the protection of the laws; but he is not a citizen in the ordinary acceptance of the word..."

Excludes Automatic Citizenship

The phrase "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" was intended to exclude American-born persons from automatic citizenship whose allegiance to the United States was not complete. With illegal aliens who are unlawfully in the United States, their native country has a claim of allegiance on the child. Thus, the completeness of their allegiance to the United States is impaired, which therefore precludes automatic citizenship.

Supreme Court Decisions

The correct interpretation of the 14th Amendment is that an illegal alien mother is subject to the jurisdiction of her native country, as is her baby. Over a century ago, the Supreme Court appropriately confirmed this restricted interpretation of citizenship in the so-called "Slaughter-House cases" [83 US 36 (1873) and 112 US 94 (1884)]13. In the 1884 Elk v.Wilkins case12, the phrase "subject to its jurisdiction" was interpreted to exclude "children of ministers, consuls, and citizens of foreign states born within the United States." In Elk, the American Indian claimant was considered not an American citizen because the law required him to be "not merely subject in some respect or degree to the jurisdiction of the United States, but completely subject to their political jurisdiction and owing them direct and immediate allegiance."

Direct And Immediate Allegiance

The Court essentially stated that the status of the parents determines the citizenship of the child. To qualify children for birthright citizenship, based on the 14th Amendment, parents must owe "direct and immediate allegiance" to the U.S. and be "completely subject" to its jurisdiction. In other words, they must be United States citizens.
Congress subsequently passed a special act to grant full citizenship to American Indians, who were not citizens even through they were born within the borders of the United States.

The Citizens Act

The Citizens Act of 1924, codified in 8USCS▀1401, establishes who shall be nationals and citizens of the United States at birth:

  • (a) a person born in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof;
  • (b) a person born in the United States to a member of an Indian, Eskimo, Aleutian, or other aboriginal tribe.

In 1889, the Wong Kim Ark Supreme Court case once again, in a ruling based strictly on the 14th Amendment, concluded that the status of the parents was crucial in determining the citizenship of the child. The current misinterpretation of the 14th Amendment is based in part upon the presumption that the Wong Kim Ark ruling encompassed illegal aliens. In fact, it did not address the children of illegal aliens and non-immigrant aliens, but rather determined an allegiance for legal immigrant parents based on the meaning of the word domicil(e). Since it is inconceivable that illegal alien parents could have a legal domicile in the United States, the ruling clearly did not extend birthright citizenship to children of illegal alien parents. Indeed, the ruling strengthened the original intent of the 14th Amendment.

Original Intent

The original intent of the 14th Amendment was clearly not to facilitate illegal aliens defying U.S. law and obtaining citizenship for their offspring, nor obtaining benefits at taxpayer expense. Current estimates indicate there may be between 300,000 and 700,000 anchor babies born each year in the U.S., thus causing illegal alien mothers to add more to the U.S. population each year than immigration from all sources in an average year before 1965. American citizens must be wary of elected politicians voting to illegally extend our generous social benefits to illegal aliens and other criminals.