Republican presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy has resurrected a controversial 2015 proposal from Donald Trump: ending birthright citizenship.
During Wednesday’s GOP debate, moderator Ilia Calderón asked Ramaswamy how he would legally expel undocumented immigrants and their U.S.-born children. Ramaswamy agreed with his opponents’ calls to militarize the border and defund sanctuary cities. However, he went a step further by advocating an end to birthright citizenship for children of undocumented immigrants.
Ramaswamy Claims 14th Amendment Only Applies to Legal Immigrants.
Ramaswamy, being the offspring of Indian immigrants, contended that the 14th Amendment exclusively confers citizenship upon individuals who are “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States. He claimed children of undocumented immigrants don’t qualify since their parents “broke the law.” Ramaswamy said, as a father, it’s hard to tell his sons to follow laws when the government doesn’t enforce its own.
Birthright Citizenship a Longtime GOP Target
Birthright citizenship has long been in the Republican crosshairs. In 2015, Trump proposed Congress end it for children of undocumented immigrants. And in 2018, Trump planned an executive order to do just that, but it never materialized.
Most legal experts believe the 14th Amendment grants birthright citizenship to those born on U.S. soil. Some argue the “subject to jurisdiction” phrase gives wiggle room to restrict this right. However, a Constitutional amendment, not legislation, would be needed to change this.
Scott Agrees, But Quickly Pivots to China Attack
Senator Tim Scott agreed with Ramaswamy, claiming the 14th Amendment was designed to end slavery, not for immigration. But Scott quickly pivoted to attacking Ramaswamy’s ties to China rather than elaborating on his constitutional argument.
Candidates Use Immigration to Dodge Other Policy Questions
Throughout Wednesday’s debate, candidates used immigration to pivot from other questions. When asked about Biden’s union support, Scott said the president should be at the border, not picket lines. Mike Pence wouldn’t commit to a DACA solution when asked, instead touting Trump’s border policies.
Nikki Haley and Chris Christie blamed immigrants for crime, falsely claiming Democrats don’t enforce laws. All dodged specifics on legalizing Dreamers, signalling immigration will remain a culture war battleground rather than a policy debate.
Hardline Immigration Stance Unites GOP Field
The GOP contenders are united in their hardline stance on immigration. But ending birthright citizenship remains controversial. Ramaswamy’s proposal echoes Trump’s immigration playbook. However, changing the Constitution is an uphill battle requiring overwhelming consensus.
This fiery debate shows immigration will remain a flashpoint in the 2024 race rather than a substantive policy discussion. Republicans will likely continue using immigration fears to rally their base while avoiding constructive solutions.
What Ramaswamy’s Proposal Really Means
Ramaswamy’s birthright citizenship proposal, if ever enacted, would create a permanent underclass of unauthorized immigrants unable to become citizens. Their US-born children would also face lifetime legal limbo and uncertainty over their status. This could develop generations living in the shadows, afraid to fully participate in American life.
The 14th Amendment was designed to ensure equal citizenship in the aftermath of the Civil War. Diluting its impact could potentially erode safeguards for marginalized and vulnerable groups. The intricacies and potential hazards of such a modification warrant in-depth scrutiny, extending beyond the simplified statements made on the campaign trail.
Shifting Views on Immigration Signal Policy Whiplash Ahead
After years of bipartisan efforts for comprehensive immigration reform, views have shifted radically rightward. Yet demographics continue diversifying America. With solutions, we avoid festering tensions and unrest. Ramaswamy’s unconstitutional idea underscores the need for nuanced debate grounded in facts, not fearmongering.
Whoever wins in 2024 must balance the rule of law with the recognition that immigrants have long advanced America. With wisdom and compassion, we can uphold ideals of both security and opportunity for all.