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I Plead the Fourteenth Amendment

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

These famous words were taken from “The New Colossus,” a poem written in 1883 by Emma Lazarus. They are inscribed permanently in history on Lady Liberty, the monument who welcomes all into our nation.

Our country is one founded on ideals of inclusion and diversity. In our country’s beginning, a few religiously oppressed figures from Great Britain came to North America to start a new future. I firmly believe the ideals they, along with our founders, wished to instill in the fibers of this nation still apply today.

Immigration has been a tender issue within the past few years in our country. We all seem to have conflicting views on immigration, specifically illegal immigration, no matter one’s home country.

I stand behind the legal processes involved in attaining American citizenship. However, in many cases, this system fails immigrants. Yet, our nation offers immigrants some consolation: even if our system fails them, it will not fail their children born here.

The Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees all individuals born in the U.S. lawful citizenship, regardless of their parents’ citizenship status. This Amendment has made a lifelong impact on perhaps thousands of American citizens, and yet, our president thinks it does not apply to children born to illegal immigrants.

In an interview with Axios, President Donald Trump stated he intends to sign an executive order to ban birthright citizenship.

“It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment,” Trump said. “Guess what? You don’t. You can definitely do it with an Act of Congress. But now they’re saying I can do it with just an executive order.”

According to Trump, apparently we are the only nation who allows such a privilege. But, if you do just a bit of research, it is clear to see there are several other countries who offer similar benefits, including Canada.

“We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in, has a baby and the baby is essentially a citizen of the U.S. for 85 years with all of those benefits,” Trump said.

Trump’s ability to create this executive order is debatable to say the least. The primary obstacle in the president’s way would be forcing the courts to decide on a debate over the Fourteenth Amendment and what parties it specifically protects.

Several individuals and organizations are boldly speaking out against these recent comments, including actress Mindy Kaling.

“Wait,” Kaling said in a tweet. “I was born in the United States to two Indian professionals who later became proud citizens of this country. So… now I would be a citizen of India? My contributions to this country would be as a foreigner with no rights?”

Along with Kaling, the American Civil Liberties Union also expressed outrage.

“The President cannot erase the Constitution with an executive order, and the Fourteenth Amendment’s citizenship guarantee is clear,” Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Right Project, said. “This is a transparent and blatantly unconstitutional attempt to sow division and fan the flames of anti-immigrant hatred in the days ahead of the midterms.”

Whatever President Trump’s intentions are in expressing these comments, they do a grave injustice to the many Americans whose parents have fled their own countries, created new lives in America and have contributed greatly to our nation.

I do not condone illegal immigration. I also do not condone stripping innocent individuals of rights given to them in our Constitution.

Fear-mongering has no place here.

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