Ending birthright citizenship will make Republicans look like the party of Dred Scott

Those who know the history of the Citizenship Clause—and if they don’t, you can bet they will be reminded of it—know that it was drafted after the Civil War specifically to reverse the pre-war Dred Scott decision, in which the Supreme Court ruled that black slaves did not count as U.S. citizens. So an attempt to reverse birthright citizenship will be seen, with some justification, as what Ho calls “Dred Scott II.” Anton’s proposal will be overwhelmingly interpreted as a declaration to black Americans that the Republican Party—the party that drafted the Fourteenth Amendment in the first place—now does not see them as equal citizens.

Moreover, objections to birthright citizenship in the original congressional debates centered on attempts to exclude the Chinese, and one of the Supreme Court’s landmark decisions embracing birthright citizenship, United States v. Wong Kim Ark, was a ruling in favor of a man born in the United States to Chinese parents. So Anton’s proposal will also be taken as a declaration that the Republican Party doesn’t see Asian-Americans as equal citizens.

But most of all, given the number of Hispanic citizens who are children of immigrants, and given Trump’s scurrilous rhetoric about Hispanic immigrants, this would be a declaration to Hispanic voters that the Republican Party does not view them as equal citizens. In fact, it would be a declaration that Republicans don’t think many of them should be citizens at all—that they should be a permanent underclass of stateless people, living in a country that will never accept them.

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