Every few years, the common law concept of "jus soli" — or birthright citizenship — comes back into the news. This time, it was thrust onto the stage by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, whose immigration plan would stop automatically giving citizenship to most people born on U.S. soil. Full story: http://n.pr/1TVltIS
  1. It's in the Constitution
    In 1868, the U.S. ratified the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The first sentence reads: "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." That language made it clear the Supreme Court's ruling in the Dred Scott case was overturned and that black Americans would enjoy U.S. citizenship.
  2. It still left some big, open questions
    There's one key clause in that sentence — "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" — that left wiggle room for interpretation. In the 1898 Supreme Court case U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark, the court said the common law concept of jus soli should be applied to the 14th Amendment. Most legal scholars agree it does not exclude the children of illegal immigrants from receiving automatic citizenship.
  3. Birthright citizenship is a New World philosophy
    The U.S. is an anomaly in the world when it comes to this issue. Most of the rest of the world, for example, gives people citizenship based on a concept known as jus sanguinis, literally "by right of blood."