Bill O’Reilly says birthright citizenship was established by the 14th Amendment, which suggests O’Reilly writes more books than he reads. This past week, O’Reilly tried to bully Donald Trump into accepting that myth, which happens to be the biggest politically correct lie of the decade. Shame on you, Bill O’Reilly, for not doing your homework.
The author of the citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment, Senator Jacob Howard of Michigan, a close friend of President Lincoln, stated, “[The 14th amendment] 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….” Moreover, the 1896 US Supreme Court decision often cited as affirming citizenship for children born to immigrants, US v. Wong Kim Ark, concerned only a LEGAL immigrant.
Doing a little homework reveals that no Supreme Court case has ever directly confronted the question of birthright citizenship for children born to illegal aliens. That is a fact no matter how many times O’Reilly and the Fox team try to obfuscate the matter.
To be fair, O’Reilly isn’t the only FOX News personality who went off the rails in defense of birth tourism and birthright citizenship. The usually sagacious Judge Andrew Napolitano also pontificated confidently and joined the FOX pile-on, as did several of Fox’s Blonde Bombers. And sadly, they are all wrong.
What Donald Trump and many conservatives and legal scholars are proposing is simple.
Congress should pass a law repealing birthright citizenship for children of foreign citizens, with the sole exception being children of legal permanent residents. Children born to business travelers, foreign students, tourists and illegal aliens would not be automatically citizens of the United States. That law would be challenged and tested in federal courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court would then decide the issue. Why are liberals and FOX News so afraid of asking the Supreme Court to decide the issue?
It may be news to FOX’s O’Reilly, but there is a large body of legal scholarship supporting the view that the 14th Amendment did NOT encompass illegal aliens in its grant of citizenship by the mere accident of birth on American soil. Respected libertarian scholar Lino Graglia of the University of Texas Law School has articulated that view, and so has Chapman University Law School Dean John Eastman, Claremont Institute Senior Fellow Ed Erler, and many others.
Nor is this a new political issue. When in Congress, I sponsored the first bill on this problem, and many bills to abolish birth tourism and birthright citizenship have been introduced over the past decade.
In April, the U.S. House of Representatives held a hearing on a bill sponsored by Rep. Steve King (R-IA). Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) has also introduced a bill on this subject. In the House committee hearing, Prof. Graglia of the University of Texas said in his testimony, “It is difficult to imagine a more irrational and self-defeating legal system than one that makes unauthorized entry into the country a criminal offense and simultaneously provides the greatest possible inducement to illegal entry: a grant of American citizenship.”
Since both views can find support among legal scholars, many people are wondering, what is the basis for Fox’s passionate defense of the status quo? How often do we see FOX jumping in the hot tub with the Huffington Post and The Nation magazine?
There is more at stake in this debate than the future citizenship of children born to illegal aliens. Every year, hundreds of children are born in American hospitals to the wives of foreign students who have legal visas to study at American universities. These children, whose parents owe their own citizenship and their allegiances to Saudi Arabia, Russia, China, Brazil and 100 other countries, are now US citizens and perfect “anchor babies” should their parents at a later date decide to return to the US and claim legal residence by virtue of “family reunification.”
Forgive me for speculating, but it appears to me the most likely reason for FOX’s odd commitment to the liberal interpretation of the 14th Amendment lies not in a sober examination of the scholarship on the issue but in FOX’s hostility to the candidacy of Donald Trump. Trump wants to repeal birthright citizenship for children of illegal aliens, so FOX has joined conventional liberal opinion in opposing it. Welcome to FOX’s My Spin Zone.
Tom Tancredo is the founder of the Rocky Mountain Foundation and founder and co-chairman of Team America PAC.
Tom represented Colorado’s sixth congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 1999 to 2009, and he is a former presidential candidate.
He is the author of In Mortal Danger: The Battle for America’s Border and Security.