When it comes to knowing, well, anything at all about the world, Donald Trump is coming up really short. His neverending crusade against undocumented immigrants resonates with the least intelligent, and most racist, part of the Republican Party, but it’s not based in a lot of fact. We know he wants to end birthright citizenship. We know it would take repealing the 14th Amendment to do so, even though he doesn’t. Another thing he doesn’t know is whether any other countries in the world have birthright citizenship.
“In the case of other countries, including Mexico, they don’t do that. It doesn’t work that way… We’re the only place just about that’s stupid enough to do it.”
He’s way wrong, there. Mexico does have birthright citizenship. Either Trump is more ignorant than we gave him credit for (which, until now, we thought was impossible) or he just said that to make it sound like the entire country is one giant hypocrite. He wants to continue building anger at Mexico for allegedly taking advantage of us.
While some might think that only third-world countries are still dumb enough to have birthright citizenship, our very own neighbor to the north, Canada, also has it. Canada’s not exactly a third-world nation. They are, however, made up of immigrants, just like we are. There are approximately 33 countries worldwide that have birthright citizenship.
It’s true that jus soli, or “right of soil,” is a far rarer concept in the world than jus sanguinis, or “right of the blood,” according to NPR. Most European countries recognize children born to non-citizens as having the same citizenship as their parents, rather than conferring automatic citizenship onto the child.
European countries, and even Asian, African and Middle Eastern countries, are not made up of immigrants the way North and South America are. Their populations are far older, and far more homogenous, than ours. Constitution aside, that, too, muddies the waters when it comes to how to grant citizenship.
In fact, we could say that jus soli is a uniquely New World phenomenon, based on the fact that North and South America are made up mostly of immigrants and their descendants. The concept of jus soli works better for nations made up of immigrants than it does for nations with longer-standing, more homogenous populations.
Does that matter to Donald Trump, though? No, or he would actually bother to learn it. It doesn’t matter to other conservatives who are screaming for it, either. They tend to think that ending birthright citizenship will end a lot of America’s problems. It won’t.
Have any of these candidates thought that some of their fellow Republicans might be in some trouble if not for birthright citizenship? Ted Cruz couldn’t run for president. Neither could Bobby Jindal. Ben Carson’s ancestors might have had considerable trouble gaining their citizenship if it wasn’t for jus soli. But hey, they benefited from it already. Screw everyone else.
Since it’s not likely that three quarters of the states would ratify an amendment that repeals birthright citizenship, Trump’s fairy tale is exactly that – a fairy tale, meant to appeal to one of the lowest common denominators of white America. He can’t be president and hope to hold onto this.