While several politicians are seeking votes by demanding an end to birthright citizenship for the children of immigrants, the American people oppose such a change by a large majority. Pew Research polled on the question of whether the Constitution should be changed to “bar citizenship for the U.S.-born children of parents who are not legal residents.” Sixty percent said to leave the Constitution alone, while only 37% supported changing it.
Birthright citizenship is given to virtually all children born here. This right derives from the 14th Amendment, the post-Civil War amendment that made non-white people into citizens. The amendment overturned the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott ruling that a “black man has no rights” that a white man is obliged to respect. It is considered the bedrock of racial equality.
Predictably, African Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to chopping up the amendment that makes them citizens. Seventy percent oppose altering the amendment, with only 26% supporting the change. Latinos are even more opposed to the proposal, with 79% against it.
All racial groups, as well as all age groups, said that the Constitution should not be changed. Opposition was particularly strong among young people. Among 18 to 29 year olds, 71% opposed getting rid of birthright citizenship.
The only demographic group that favored ending birthright citizenship was Republican voters.
Although ending birthright citizenship has gotten more publicity in the last four months than at any time in living memory, support for getting rid of it has dropped. In 2006, 42% of Americans supported the change, now only 37% favor altering the 14th Amendment. So the more the issue is discussed, the more people want to keep birthright citizenship.
Politicians may turn out immigrant haters at rallies with calls to get rid of birthright citizenship, but the polling shows that voters don’t support erasing the Constitutional grant of citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants.