The children of immigrants are an increasingly central part of this discussion. Candidates toss around the term “anchor baby,” either unaware of its invalidation of whole generations of Americans or in a deliberate effort to offend and alienate the many that term applies to. Some have called for repealing the provision that guarantees U.S. citizenship to anyone born on U.S. soil, claiming it incentivizes illegal immigration.

What is forgotten is that birthright citizenship has created generations of Americans of all races and ethnicities. No person born on U.S. soil should ever have to settle for a diminished claim to the rights, honors, and privileges constitutionally conferred to others before them. Equal opportunity is essential to the notion that anyone from anywhere can achieve anything in the United States.

All of this is fundamental to the idea that ours is a country built on shared beliefs—not on shared ethnicity. Our nation’s fiber is strengthened by our shared belief system. And taking away birthright citizenship ultimately would diminish what makes us so uniquely American.