Even non-immigrants will be affected if birth does not confer citizenship. At present, anyone can obtain a U.S. passport or register to vote by providing a birth certificate showing they were born in the United States. But if a birth certificate is not proof of citizenship, every American is going to be affected. And what is it we are “protecting” by upending a system that has served us well for more than 150 years (for whites, to our very founding)? Will we be a better nation if millions of people who are born here, pay taxes, contribute to their communities and our society are deprived of the right to become citizens? And how will they attain that right? Must they move back to their parents’ nation of origin and apply to immigrate? Will Trump seek to deport those born here as well as their parents? (I think we know the answer to that question already.)
I don’t believe it will come to this—but not because Trump won’t try. He will be aided and abetted by outfits like the Claremont Institute, whose scholars have spearheaded legal arguments against birthright citizenship for children born to illegal immigrants and more recently to those born to legal immigrants as well. My faith is based on a belief there is little appetite to reinterpret the 14th Amendment in ways that defy the plain language of the amendment, its legislative history, and subsequent court rulings.