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Birthright Citizenship Debate Brings Fear to New Jersey’s 128,000 US Citizen Children of Unauthorized Immigrants

President Trump Bans Certain Immigrant Green Cards for 60 Days in COVID-19 Executive Order

With President Trump threatening a Constitutional showdown over the question of “birthright citizenship,” many New Jersey immigrants are concerned about their children—those already born and deemed US Citizens, and those who are to be born. “Birthright citizenship” is the automatic granting of US Citizenship to any child born on US soil, without regard to the citizenship or resident status of the parent. Citing to a 2016 Migration Policy Institute report, New Jersey’s 101.5 wrote that “New Jersey was home to 128,000 children between 2009 and 2013 who were born in the United States to unauthorized immigrants. That represented 76 percent of all children of immigrants living illegally in the state.” New Jersey ranks 8th nationally with the greatest number of US citizen children born to unauthorized immigrants.

While one cannot doubt the President’s ability to physically sign an executive order declaring an end to birthright citizenship, the question of whether this act would pass constitutional challenges on many grounds is an entirely separate issue, better addressed in a law review article than in a blog. Moreover, the process of amending the US Constitution to end automatic citizenship by virtue of one’s birth on US soil would not be the easiest of undertakings. Nonetheless, the President’s words have alarmed immigrants across New Jersey.

The concerns are in the unknowns. The concerns are in the uncertainties. Undocumented immigrant parents are already in anticipation each day for Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to arrest them; now, they worry for their children, too. As one Somerset County immigrant mother of four US Citizen children said, “I have to worry about my four kids being deported with me. I don’t know what I am going to do. I have been afraid for myself for the last thirty years, now I must live in fear for my children for the rest of my life.”

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