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Opening Arguments

Rights of passage

The debate over illegal immigration isn't gone, it's just simmering below the surface, and "simmering" is exactly the right word. There's still a lot of anger out there over the possibility of amnesty, and it will bubble up again when those pushing for it inevitably bring it up again. And the issue of birthright citizenship is not going to remain a "crackpot idea of the fringe right" much longer. Lawmakers in 15 states have announced a nationwide effort to change the way the 14th Amendment is interpreted. And here, the ACLU of Indiana might inadvertently bring about that debate sooner rather than later:

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Two sets of immigrant parents whose children were born in Indianapolis sued health officials Tuesday over a policy they say makes the children legally illegitimate and denies them their family rights to such things as insurance.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed the lawsuit against the Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County on behalf of the families. The parents say the policy violates their 14th Amendment rights, which say any child born in the United States is a U.S. citizen.

At issue is the enforcement of a state law that allows a child's paternity to be established through an affidavit containing both parents' Social Security numbers. Although the law was enacted in 1997, the lawsuit claims health officials "only recently" began interpreting it to mean that people who didn't have or couldn't get Social Security numbers couldn't file the affidavits.

No, the 14th Amendment does not say "any child born in the United States is a U.S. citizen." It says "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." (My emphasis.) Certainly the amendment wasn't intended to cover the children of illegal immigrants, since the country really had no immigration policy at the time. Whether its current interpretation to include them is correct is a subject open to debate, and granting birthright citizenship isn't exactly common among countries with advanced economies.


Bob G.
Wed, 10/20/2010 - 9:34am

Yeah, Leo...that nasty subject of the JURISDICTION thereof seems to come back and bite 'em in the butt, doesn't it?

They just can't find a way AROUND it, can they?
Pshaw...for them.

Wed, 10/20/2010 - 10:36am

Wikipedia has a good entry on the subject of birthright citizenship. It's not some sort of loophole. It's just that, traditionally, we welcomed immigration and wanted more Americans.

William Larsen
Wed, 10/20/2010 - 11:45am

As many no, I am no friend to an illegal alien. However, the state has a real problem here with requiring a Social Security number. As the IRS found out in Larsen v IRS Commissioner in 2008, there is no federal law that requires an individual ever apply for a social security account number.

The SSA states applying for a SSN is voluntary. However, once a person has been assigned a SSN, it cannot be revoked, but can be assigned a different number in some cases. The privacy act of 1974 5 UCS 552a states very clearly you cannot deny rights, benefits or privileges for not having a Social Security Number unless it is required by Federal Statute or Executive Order.

In my particular case with the IRS that lasted 20 years, the IRS conceded the instant Judge Goeke began the proceedings. The IRS thought I would cave. The State of Indiana faces a much more difficult position. Being a state, the only federal statute that authorizes the state to use a SSN for identification is section 405 c 2a of the Social Security Act that only authorizes the state to use those SSN that have been issued. There is a big difference between allowing the use of an issued SSN and the requirement that an individual have a SSN.

The State will loose.