While liberals and Democrats often point to other nations — particularly to Europe — as a guide for what U.S. policy should be, when it comes to birthright citizenship, the latest flash point in the presidential campaign, the U.S. is out of step with most of the developed world.
The U.S. and Canada are the only two nations with advanced economies that recognize birthright citizenship, according to the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), a group that is generally critical of immigration.
The group analyzed policies for 190 nations and found that only 33 have what’s known as a “jus soli” system, or “right of soil,” system. Children are considered citizens as long as they are born within such nations’ borders, regardless of their parents’ nationality.
The United Kingdom, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Germany, Austria, Italy and most other European nations do not grant citizenship based solely on birth, according to CIS. Instead, they have what is known as a “jus sanguinis” system which means “right of blood.”
Children born in nations with such systems maintain their parents’ nationality.
The debate over whether to repeal birthright citizenship was brought to the forefront by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump who recently proposed changing the system in an immigration policy paper released by his campaign.
The real estate billionaire, who has risen to the top of GOP polls as he’s been critical of U.S. immigration policy, cited a 2011 Rasmussen poll which found that 65 percent of Americans oppose birthright citizenship for children born to illegal immigrants.
Several other Republican presidential candidates — namely Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, and Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz — have said they support Trump’s idea.
Cruz, who was born in Canada to an American mother and Cuban father, has said he has long supported ending birthright citizenship.
A constitutional conservative, Cruz has said that doing so would require overturning the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which states that those born inside the U.S. are considered citizens.
Dissenting from that view are former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, both of whom are considered the most liberal in the GOP field on immigration.
“I’m open to doing things that prevent people who deliberately come to the U.S. for purposes of taking advantage of the 14th Amendment, but I’m not in favor of repealing it,” Rubio said in Iowa earlier this week.
Bush also said that he supports birthright citizenship. But he caused a separate stir when he suggested he wanted to prevent abuse from foreigners who come to the U.S. for the purpose of having children so that they may receive citizenship. Bush referred to those children as “anchor babies,” which some consider a slur.