I Am An American Essay

1768 words - 7 pages

Since the 1800s, immigration has been considered a problem that is out of control in the United States. Government officials have claimed that the issue of birthright citizenship is the core of the dispute over immigration. To try and remedy this situation, holders of public office have held hearings and debates in an attempt to “redefine” what it means to be an American citizen.
Birthright citizenship is the term used to refer to the citizenship that is granted to an individual who is born on the associated territory. Providing an individual with citizenship of any state or country means that one now has the rights, privileges and duties of a citizen in the related region. In the United States, birthright citizenship is a highly controversial topic; constant debates are held to discuss the effects of this issue. Whether for birthright citizenship or against it, both parties collect main ideas and events to answer the same question—Should birthright citizenship be carried on into the future of the United States?
In 1868, congress passed the Fourteenth Amendment that granted citizenship to all those who are born on U.S. soil. The Fourteenth Amendment was constructed to rectify the dispute that was caused by the Dred Scott case. Dred Scott vs. Sanford was a case where the U.S. Supreme Court said that African Americans that were imported to the United States and held as slaves could never be U.S. citizens because they were not protected by the constitution. In Section 1 of the 14th amendment it 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.” (Elbel). This text implies that any individual, no matter their original location, is subject to the privileges of an American citizen. Some argue that the language of the Fourteenth Amendment has been misinterpreted and abused as time has passed. The backbone for this argument? — “Subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” In the Fourteenth Amendment, this phrase holds the key to why birthright citizenship can be deemed unconstitutional. Government officials say that these key words were put in the constitution to specifically to exclude Native Americans born on reservations and any other foreign national.
In 1884, the case of Elk vs. Wilkins was brought to the attention of the U.S. Supreme Court. In this case an Indian named John Elk, who was born on a reservation within the U.S. border, was denied the right to vote by Charles Wilkins even though he had moved to a non-reservation territory and separated himself from his tribe. Elk argued that he deserved the right to vote as a U.S....

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