Since its ratification 150 years ago, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution has guaranteed that “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.” With the ratification of this amendment — after hundreds of years of chattel slavery followed by a bloody Civil War that cost hundreds of thousands of lives — America’s Second Founders decided to bend the arc of our Constitution toward progress.

The 14th Amendment is perhaps the greatest provision of our Constitution, in part because of its profound guarantee of citizenship to all who are born on American soil. After the Civil War, when members of the Reconstruction Congress assembled to draft the amendment’s birthright citizenship clause, they were writing against a backdrop of prejudice not only against African Americans but also immigrant communities including the Chinese and Roma. Much of the hostility against these immigrants was based on the same resentment toward immigrants in the United States today: that they would take away good jobs from people already here (while exhibiting a willingness to allow them to take jobs perceived as undesirable); that waves of immigrants were “invading,” or in the words of President Trump, “infesting” the country; and that they were arriving with different cultures and languages.