For over a century, the 14th Amendment has guaranteed the U.S. citizenship of all children born in the U.S. regardless of race, ethnicity, or ancestry.
That, of course, has not stopped many politicians, including those currently running for president, from attacking birthright citizenship as a means of appealing to extremists within their party.
However, those who choose to use this issue to drum up anti-immigrant sentiment are doing little more than grandstanding. The question of what makes someone a U.S. citizen and a citizen of each state has long been settled.
Still, some states are devising new and cruel ways to hurt the children of undocumented immigrants who are born in this country. State health officials in Texas, for example, established a policy refusing to issue birth certificates to U.S.-born children whose parents use IDs issued by Mexican consulates.
Earlier this year, a number of immigrant families filed a lawsuit against the state and sought a preliminary injunction to block the state from enforcing this policy while the case is being heard.
Unfortunately, a judge in Texas last week refused to grant the injunction, despite acknowledging that this case raises serious concerns over the treatment of these children. This decision is disappointing to say the least. These children born in Texas are U.S. citizens and are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution the rights and privileges that come with citizenship.
By denying them birth certificates, Texas officials are attempting to deny these children their most basic rights and create a second-class citizenship. As the lawsuit noted, not having birth certificates could interfere with the children receiving medical care, enrolling in school, and even traveling.
The state of Texas must issue birth certificates to these children immediately and ensure that Texas does not create an unequal class system of people born in the United States. Citizenship upon birth is a profound American value that strives to make equality of opportunity a reality for all.