Its interesting to find that situations seemingly decided in the past, may, in fact have a questionable provenance. Accepted today as a fait accompli is the assumed citizenship of any child born in territorial United States. 1. In 1894, Wong Kim Ark, born and raised in the United States, visited China. His parents who had worked in San Francisco, had returned to China to live, and when Wong Kim Ark returned to California, he wasdenied permission to enter the country "...because the said Wong Kim Ark, although born in the city and county of San Francisco, state of California, United States of America, is not, under the laws of the state of California and of the United States, a citizen thereof, the mother and father of the said Wong Kim Ark being Chinese persons, and subjects of the emperor of China, and the said Wong Kim Ark being also a Chinese person and a subject of the Emperor of China." United States v. Wong Kim Ark - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 2. The framers of the Constitution were, of course, well-versed in the British common law, having learned its essential principles from William Blackstones Commentaries on the Laws of England. As such, they knew that the very concept of citizenship was unknown in British common law. Blackstone speaks only of birthright subjectship or birthright allegiance, never using the terms citizen or citizenship. The idea of birthright subjectship is derived from feudal law. The concept refers to the subjects of a king: perpetual allegiance. 3. But the Revolutionary War reversed this doctrine. The Declaration of Independence proclaims: the good People of these Colonies. . . are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown 4. James Wilson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a member of the Constitutional Convention as well as a Supreme Court Justice, captured the essence of the matter when he remarked: Under the Constitution of the United States there are citizens, but no subjects. The transformation of subjects into citizens was the work of the Declaration and the Constitution citizenship is based on the consent of the governednot the accident of birth. 5. Citizenship, of course, does not exist by nature; it is created by law, and the identification of citizens has always been considered an essential aspect of sovereignty. Although the Constitution of 1787 mentioned citizens, it did not define citizenship. It was in 1868 that a definition of citizenship entered the Constitution, with the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment. Here is the familiar language: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. Thus there are two components to American citizenship: birth or naturalization in the U.S. and being subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. 6. So, not only being born within the geographical limits of the US is required: the definition of jurisdiction is critical! a. Senator Jacob Howard, the author of the citizenship clause of the 14th amendment excluded Indians as citizens, as they were not subject to its jurisdiction because they owed allegiance to their tribes. Senator Lyman Trumbull, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, rose to support his colleague, arguing that subject to the jurisdiction thereof meant not owing allegiance to anybody else and being subject to the complete jurisdiction of the United States. Jurisdiction understood as allegiance, Senator Howard interjected, excludes not only Indians but persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, [or] who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers. b. The Expatriation Act of 1868 allows Americans to renounce their citizenship. Like the idea of citizenship, this right of expatriation is wholly incompatible with the common law understanding of perpetual allegiance and subjectship In sum, this legacy of feudalismwhich we today call birthright citizenshipwas decisively rejected as the ground of American citizenship by the Fourteenth Amendment and the Expatriation Act of 1868. It is absurd, then, to believe that the Fourteenth Amendment confers the boon of American citizenship on the children of illegal aliens. c. Furthermore, it is difficult to fathom how those who defy American law can derive benefits for their children by their defianceor that any sovereign nation would allow such a thing. 7. The Wong Kim Ark decision, that a child of legal resident aliens is entitled to birthright citizenship, was based on the premise that the Fourteenth Amendment adopted the common law system of birthright citizenship, nor did the decision explain how subjects were miraculously transformed into citizens, but, rather that the two terms were interchangeable, equating, in effect, feudal monarchy and republicanism. https://www.hillsdale.edu/news/imprimis/archive/issue.asp?year=2008&month=07 So, was the Wong Kim Ark decision correctly decided? Should the current Supreme Court address the question once again? And, how would you decide the case?