The Racialised Non-Being of Non-Citizens
Slaves, Migrants and the Stateless
Proponents of barring the children of undocumented immigrants from birthright citizenship allege that the United States (‘US’) Constitution’s 14th Amendment was intended to give full citizenship to former slaves and their progeny, and not to benefit the children of foreign-born people. A real-world example that illustrates the dangers of so restricting birthright citizenship is the Dominican Republic, where legal measures have already excluded the children of out-of-status immigrants (who are mostly of Haitian ancestry) from eligibility for birthright citizenship. The effect of this has not been ethnically cleansing Haitian descendants from the Dominican Republic so much as confining them within the country as a stateless underclass of people. The Dominican case therefore shows that US opponents of birthright citizenship for the children of out-of-status non-citizens must answer to the danger that their proposal would create a legally approved hereditary underclass on US soil, more than a century after the abolition of chattel slavery.