Birthright Citizenship?

Through reading the Keywords essay, “America” by Kirsten Gruesz, I have come to realize that defining the word America is not as easy as it seems. We could define America as a geographical place (North and South America), or addressing it as a political space or a group of people with shared values. Or how somewhere in history the word America became a synonym for the United States. On the opposite hand, we could also define America by what it’s not- what’s “un-American”. Additionally, there are even different yet similar connotations between the words America, American, Americanization, Americanism, and Americanness. Lastly, and what I will be focusing on is being an American because of birthright citizenship.

Trump since the beginning of his presidency, has made it clear how he feels on illegal immigration and the boarder. Since there has been a huge debate over whether or not to build the wall- Trump is now taking a stab at birthright citizenship. In the video, Trump talks about how “we are the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby and the baby is a essentially a citizen for 85 years with all of those benefits, it’s ridiculous”. With Trump trying to abolish the idea of birthright citizenship, this would redefine what makes someone an American.

This would go against the 14th amendment which states 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”. Since this would go against the United States Constitution, Trump has come to another halt figuring out how to go around this obstacle. This would also differ from Gruesz essay in defining America. If Trump were able to put an end to birthright citizenship, defining who is an American citizen becomes even more difficult.

From the American Girl books we have read, it is interesting to see that not off of them were born on American soil. An example of this is Meet Kirsten and Kirsten Learns a Lesson. Kirsten was a Swedish girl and her and her family were immigrating to America. Kirsten and her family had the same hope to come to America and work hard to create a better life. All true American values. But since Kirsten wasn’t born in America, if looking at birthright citizenship, technically Kirsten would not be an American citizen. But, since this story is placed way before the Trump administration, Kirsten becomes an American girl over time. A significant moment for Kirsten feeling like a true American girl is when she gets to wear her cousin’s American girl clothing. It is interesting to think about what would happen to the American Girl series if the Trump administration would be able to abolish birthright citizenship. I wonder how the series would move forward and what they would write about. If they would address the new laws or keep going with the American Girl ideals and values. I guess we will have to wait and see.

2 thoughts on “Birthright Citizenship?”

  1. I think this is a very topical issue regarding how we define America as a keyword. I think another point we could consider in this conversation is how much of a emphasis we put on how the President is related to America. Obviously, the President is very important in terms of the American government, but how much power do they individually have in deciding how America is defined? I think this is particularly interesting because previous presidents have not raised an issue with birthright citizenship, so are we as a nation going to let a single person define who is American or not?

  2. Hi Jocelyn!

    I think that you bring up some really interesting points in this. If you are thinking about the term “American” in a geographical sense, as you had pointed out, you are encompassing people from outside of the United States of America, a fact that is often looked past. I think this is especially interesting when looking at the term in the context of South America. So often in society today people from these South American countries are deemed instantly un-American. Just look at the modern immigration debate and the hostility towards people migrating to this country, especially from Mexico. If we are looking at American in terms of geography, these people are no less American than those born in the United States, but they are pushed to the outskirts of society. What gives us, birthright Americans, the right to take that identity away from people who also fit the description?

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