In December 2014, Korean Air executive Heather Cho ordered an aircraft back to the gate when a flight attendant served her macadamia nuts in a bag, not on a plate. Cho, the daughter of Korean Air’s chairman, allegedly acted with imperial arrogance, belittling the flight attendant, threatening other Korean Air employees, and violating air safety rules by treating the aircraft as her personal property. The incident stirred outrage in Korea over the attitudes of the privileged elite, and garnered international attention. The press deemed it “nut rage.”
Cho became famous for this act, was punished and has apologized. Meanwhile, a less well-known fact about Cho is that she, along with many other of Asia’s wealthy elites, traveled to the U.S. to give birth to her kids so they could become American citizens.
Birthright citizenship has become a hot issue in this election cycle in the United States. First Donald Trump created controversy by discussing “anchor babies” of illegal immigrants, presumably referring to people of Hispanic origin. Then Jeb Bush noted that it’s Asians, mostly, who are abusing birthright citizenship with birth tourism. Of course the politically correct media jumped all over him, as the press is all too eager to smear conservatives as racist. But what Jeb Bush said is true. Asian elites are abusing birthright citizenship.
To see how absurd birthright citizenship is, consider the following hypothetical. You, an American citizen, decide to travel to Sweden for the birth of your child so the child can obtain Swedish citizenship. Maybe you want the child to be eligible for free college offered by the Swedish state, or maybe you think an EU-nation passport will increase the child’s employment opportunities, or any other self-serving reason. Yet neither you nor the child’s other parent has any Swedish background, either culturally, linguistically or otherwise. Furthermore, you don’t intend to raise the child in Sweden. Most importantly, your loyalty is to America and you feel American in your heart, and intend to raise the child the same way. In no meaningful sense can it be said that either you or the child is Swedish.
Sweden would be downright foolhardy to offer citizenship in that case, and of course this situation is only a hypothetical because Sweden does not have birthright citizenship. In fact the vast majority of countries worldwide do not have birthright citizenship, because most nations are not dumb enough to give away citizenship like candy. If all countries had birthright citizenship, anyone with money for an international flight could just pick and choose – hey I want my first kid to be Russian, and my second Mongolian, and so on, even if I’m raising them in Indiana!
American citizenship means something. To be American is to share in the values and traditions of our country. Regarding the children of the nut rage lady and other alleged birth tourists, they may be great kids. They’re not bad people – they’re just not Americans, and they should not be granted American citizenship just because their mother flew to Hawaii or L.A. to give birth. Most nations don’t offer birthright citizenship to Americans, and we shouldn’t offer it to them. We’re being used. Birthright citizenship is nuts!
Andrew Keller is an American lawyer working in Korea and is co-head of Republicans Overseas, Korea chapter. He is a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School and a Chicago White Sox fan.