Can Congress Deny Birthright Citizenship?

Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times argues that it can and it should:

“There is a general agreement about the fact that citizenship in this country should not be bestowed on people who are the children of folks who come into this country illegally,” said Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican, who is participating in the “unity dinners,” the group of Republicans trying to find consensus on immigration. Birthright citizenship, or what critics call “anchor babies,” means that any child born on U.S. soil is granted citizenship, with exceptions for foreign diplomats. That attracts illegal aliens, who have children in the United States; those children later can sponsor their parents for legal immigration. Most lawmakers had avoided the issue, fearing that change would require a constitutional amendment – the 14th Amendment reads in part: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.” But several Republicans said recent studies suggest otherwise.

Even if Congress could end run the 14th Amendment, I consider this proposal offensive. Dinan makes two claims without citing any support for either. What is his evidence for the premise that birthright citizenship attracts immigration (I refuse to use the term “illegal aliens” in this regard)? And it is interesting that he suggests “recent studies” suggest that Congress can pass a law that is clearly at odds with the 14th Amendment – and yet Dinan fails to identify a single one of these alleged studies.

The coverage of this issue from Jim Puzzanghera is more convincing in its counterargument on the legal issue:

According to the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868 to give former slaves U.S. citizenship, “all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.” Tancredo said citizens of other countries are not subject to U.S. jurisdiction, and he added that drafters of the 14th Amendment did not intend it to apply to children of illegal immigrants. But in a case in 1898, the Supreme Court ruled that a Chinese immigrant born in San Francisco was legally a U.S. citizen, even though federal law at the time denied citizenship to people from China. The court said birth in the United States constituted “a sufficient and complete right to citizenship.” Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., who serves on the House immigration subcommittee, said it would take a constitutional amendment to deny birthright citizenship.

The unambiguous words of our Constitution and the ruling from the Supreme Court – what part of either does Mr. Dinan fail to understand?