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PERSPECTIVE: Ramaswamy’s Short-sided Attack on Birthright Citizenship

Vivek Ramaswany
Created: 10 September, 2023
Updated: 13 September, 2023
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6 min read

Young and enthusiastic presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy keeps trying out new but increasingly unhinged proposals he says he would launch if elected President.

Ramaswamy, 38, may be a successful biotech investor but he either lacks a fundamental understanding of American civics, or he simply doesn't care as long as he makes enough noise to get noticed in a crowded Republican field trying to one-up the loudest carnival barker of them all, Donald Trump.

After saying that, had he been in Vice-President Mike Pence’s place on January 6th he would have stalled the certification of the 2020 election until Congress unilaterally changed the voting laws across the Country (which are controlled by counties and states, not the feds), Ramaswamy has now promised to deport children born in the US from undocumented parents.

Let’s forget for a minute that the 14th Amendment of the Constitution confers citizenship based on the English common law theory of “jus soli”, a Latin term translated as “right of the soil”, meaning citizenship is a birthright dependent on where you’re born, and denying that right would require a constitutional amendment passed by Congress and ratified by at least 34 states.

The US, Canada, Mexico, and many countries in the Western hemisphere grant citizenship at birth without reference to the nationality of the mother or father, so it is not a uniquely American right.

But conservative Republicans have nonetheless floated the idea of ending birthright citizenship for years as a way of attacking undocumented immigration -they believe- by eliminating an incentive that attracts people from all over the world to come here, even if illegally.

Republicans think it’s a winning argument among their nationalist base voters who vehemently oppose pathways to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already here as another way to discourage migrants desperately looking for a better life for themselves and eventually their children.

But why was birthright citizenship included in the US Constitution and been used by other countries for centuries?

Ironically, the theory of birthright citizenship was instituted by European colonialist powers who wanted to encourage citizens from the Old World to populate New World colonies they controlled so they could gradually outnumber indigenous populations, but now WASPS fear it’s happening to them in their own country.

During America colonial times, England, France, and other countries that ruled their respective colonies all followed the concept of birthright citizenship as a means of growing the number of loyal subjects and, especially, having sufficient workers to grow their fledgling economies.

Before the 14th Amendment was passed in 1868 to grant national birthright citizenship, the Constitution still provided that native born individuals were citizens of their state before the concept of a strong federal government was codified, so birthright citizenship was always contemplated from the inception of America.

In fact, the British charter that established the colony of Virginia in 1606 included birthright citizenship and predated the concept enshrined in the US Constitution nearly 200 years later.

But Ramaswany’s rhetoric isn’t just a harmless appeal to Republican’s xenophobic base, but it would actually harm the US economy in the short term and, especially, in the long run.

Much like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ proposal to use US military special forces to attack Mexican cartels in their own country, Ramaswany’s plan to deport native born Americans of Mexican parents would cause an immediate diplomatic and economic crisis with our neighbor and largest trading partner.

Mexico’s current and soon-to-be-former President Andrés Manuel Lopéz Obrador and his nationalist MORENO Party have already taken dramatically isolationist positions that have hurt US-Mexico relations, including an antagonistic approach that bristles at US intervention in domestic affairs.

That is important here because Mexico is preparing for its own presidential election next year almost simultaneously with our own, a synchronization that only happens every 12 years as a result of Mexico’s six-year presidential terms aligning with our four-year terms.

So, as Ramaswany, DeSantis, and other Republican ramp up their anti-Mexico rhetoric, the two leading Mexican presidential candidate could be forced to take equally aggressive yet defensive positions to uphold Mexico’s sovereignty in order to win their own election.

Raising the angst between American and Mexican presidential candidates would only result in growing animosities at a time when cooperation could instead help attack drug smuggling and also encourage much-needed foreign investment in manufacturing semiconductors and other high-value products that international companies are looking to near-shore closer to the US market.

But even more damaging than the short-term economic impact, though, would be crippling to America’s long-term prosperity as a superpower.

In the last decade, the US population of Whites has actually decreased for the first time in our country’s history, not only as a percentage, but in net numbers.

More White Americans died than were born between 2010 and 2020. Period.

Yet, the US population grew, solely as a result of immigration and the birthrates among recent immigrants, both documented and undocumented.

The US would be a shrinking country with limited prospects of growing our economy with sufficient workers if not for immigrants and their children.

China is on the brink of economic collapse because of its aging and shrinking population as a result of its myopic one-child policy of the 1990s which has already resulted in a net decrease in their working-age population and is expected to have decreased by 25% by 2050.

The population of White Americans has not only decreased in real numbers but is also older on average than minorities, especially Latinos and Asian, which accounted for the largest increases in the US population growth in the last decade.

We need immigrants and their children. Our future depends on them.

So, back to Ramaswany’s knee-jerk decision to throw red meat at his base in a desperate attempt to gain popularity among equally opportunistic candidates.

Not only is it racist, nationalist, protectionist, and borderline fascist, but it’s just self-defeating and simply dumb.

Born of highly-educated immigrant parents from India, Ramaswany must think he is the perfect messenger to propose such a draconian change in our immigration policy since, of course, he believes, an immigrant can’t be racist.

But his proposal doesn't fail for it’s racist undertones; it’s simply bad economic policy.

Ramaswany should take a deeper look into social geography trends and the long-term impact of embracing immigration and native born immigrant children.

England grew as an world power only after embracing birthright citizenship to attract immigrants with important labor skills. European super powers expanded their reach around the world by encouraging emigration and immigration to far-flung colonies. And the US became the world’s richest and most powerful country on the backs of immigrants for the past four hundred years.

Vivek, don’t be a sellout. Celebrate your immigrant story. Don’t use your platform to demean the millions of immigrants -documented or not- that helped build this country. Be a voice not a bark.