Does The U.S. Constitution Grant ‘Native Born Citizenship’? Tusculum College, American Government Essay

1390 words - 6 pages

Does the U.S. Constitution grant ‘Native-born Citizenship’?
Native-born citizens are people born within the United States but the parents happen to not be citizens. There is much controversy over whether or not these types of people are actually citizens because the Constitution uses but does not define the phrase "natural-born citizen.” Section One of the Fourteenth amendment clearly states, - “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. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” With this being stated, I think that the Constitution does guarantee anyone born on American soil are rightfully citizens with the same freedoms and liberties as a “traditional born citizen”.
There have been many occasions where this argument has become a main focal point for some pretty important court cases. One of the most popular was U.S. vs. Wong Kim Ark (1898.) In this particular court case Wong Kim Ark was born in 1873 in the city of San Francisco in California. His parents were both Chinese immigrants and remained subjects of the Chinese emperor while they lived in the United States. Ever since he was born, Wong Kim Ark lived in California. Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, which denied citizenship to any Chinese immigrants and did not allow any new immigrant laborers to come from China until 1892. In 1890, Wong Kim Ark’s parents returned to China. He visited them that same year, but came back to San Francisco, recognized as a “native-born citizen” by the U.S. customs officials. In 1894, when he was 21 years old, he went back to China to visit his parents again. In 1895, he attempted to re-enter the United States, but U.S. customs officials denied his entry, claiming this time that he was not a U.S. citizen. (United States v. Wong Kim Ark 169 U.S. 649 (1898), para. one) So the question lies: does a child born in the United States to parents of Chinese descent become a U.S. citizen by birth, according to the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution? The The clear answer is yes. Chinese Exclusion Act was passed 14 years after the Fourteenth Amendment, so it cannot possibly control the meaning of the amendment. Justice Horace Gray wrote the opinion of the Supreme Court, which stated that the Act “must be construed and executed in subordination” to the Fourteenth Amendment. The court held that the government cannot deny citizenship to anyone born within the United States, including Wong Kim Ark. Furthermore, if he was a citizen, then the Chinese Exclusion Act could not apply to him.
Another important court case is Minor v. Happersett (1874) which states on 15th of Octob...

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