Countries that have ended birthright citizenship have seen creations of underclasses that harmed their societies.
Supporters of birthright citizenship say there are a number of reasons it should be maintained. It’s part of the Constitution. Attempts to restrict it have historically been motivated by racist fears of immigrants and their children. Ending it would be a bureaucratic nightmare. The most extreme consequence would be a massive group of stateless people – neither citizens in the U.S. nor in foreign countries.
It’s true that many other countries don’t have birthright citizenship. But those countries have problems of their own.
Germany’s stringent citizenship laws created a vast underclass of second- and third-generation Turkish migrants, who still struggle today for equal opportunities and protection from racism…
…as tensions rose following widespread migration from neighboring Haiti, the Dominican government eliminated birthright citizenship with a series of legal changes dating back to 2004. The new standard is enshrined in the 2010 Constitution, and a 2013 decision by the country’s Constitutional Court obliged the government to apply the standard retroactively.
The changes prompted a flood of international criticism and the creation of a stateless population estimated by some human rights groups to be as high as 200,000 people – including 60,000 children. The vast majority of these people are of Haitian descent and black, fueling suspicions that racism played a role in prompting the changes.
Hundreds of thousands of Koreans have lived for decades without citizenship rights in Japan because of the country’s strict nationality laws…
The Korean community never had much chance to integrate. Because Japan’s nationality laws are based on parentage rather than place of birth, their children faced the same patterns of exclusion. Very few Koreans tried to naturalize as Japanese citizens, which would have required them to take on Japanese names and renounce their right to South Korean citizenship. Zainichi Koreans fought long battles to gain access to Japan’s national health insurance and state pensions. Korean language schools are underfunded, and until the late 1990s their pupils could not take the university entrance exam. Koreans also faced widespread discrimination, causing some to hide their Korean heritage for decades.