The Hotchkiss Record

All People are Created Equal

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All People are Created Equal

Tina Guo '19

Tina Guo '19

Tina Guo '19

The Declaration of Independence states that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” However, President Donald Trump now seeks to deprive newborn souls on our soil of these rights, by preparing an executive order that would nullify birthright citizenship in the United States. Birthright citizenship is guaranteed by the 14th Amendment, which states that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.”

Ending birthright citizenship by executive order is unacceptable, as it violates the founding principles of the United States. Absolute equality, which was proposed by our founding fathers and perfected by subsequent leaders, is granted to the people of the soil. This principle is the bottom line of our nation and should never be challenged.

In the current immigration system, it often takes more than five to six years for permanent residents to gain American citizenship. If President Trump’s proposed executive order comes into effect, their children cannot be naturalized during their parents’ application for citizenship. Immigrants entering the United States give up everything at home, in many cases hoping to offer their children a better life. By establishing this order, our nation would fail to fulfill the guarantee that we once made to the immigrants entering Ellis Island – “Give me your tired, your poor / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free/ The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. / Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me / I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Undocumented immigrants have been targeted repeatedly by President Trump and his predecessors. I recognize the potential negative impact of undocumented immigrants on the national welfare system and labor market. Although their motivations might be fleeing from wars, diseases, disasters, they are still unjustified in entering the nation without official permission. Therefore, I support certain policies with regard to illegal immigrants, including deportation. However, all babies are innocent, and they do not choose to be in their position. Should children suffer the consequences of their parents’ wrongdoing? Are these children guilty as their parents are? Are they inferior to other children born on the same soil?

No, they are not.

I argue that all children born in the United States deserve equal treatment. They should all be given “the unalienable Rights…the Life, Liberty and pursuit of Happiness” granted by our founding fathers in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and its Amendments, by receiving American citizenship.

President Trump has been active in creating policies that restrict the ability of immigrants from entering the country.  However, even if the total number of undocumented immigrants shrinks significantly, there would still be a considerable number who have arrived in America already and have no ability to return to their home. If their children are without American citizenship, they would be completely vulnerable as they may be citizens of no country. Who then, would save these children from starvation and the exposure of violence and drug when the welfare system is no longer accessible to them? Who then, could offer these children education and health care?

Fortunately, this executive order is not likely to come into effect, as  President Trump has faced pushback, even from within his own party. Speaker of the House Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin stated that “[President Trump] obviously cannot do that.” Mr Ryan identifies himself as “a believer in the plain text of the Constitution.” He believes that it would “involve a very, very lengthy constitutional process” to revoke birthright citizenship. In fact, the Constitution provides that an amendment may be proposed by the Congress and approved with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. It is far from feasible for President Trump to convince the majority to vote for the proposal, especially now that the Democratic party has gained control of the House after the midterm election.  

For over 200 years of our nation’s history, opposition to the founding principle of equality has been mounted  by those who place their personal interests in front of the interests of others. However, each time, courageous people have stood up to push our country closer to its principles. At this moment, can our nation’s commitment be protected from another such opposition? Can the government of the people, for the people, by the people, hold firmly to our founding principle, not letting it to perish from the earth?

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