Vivek Ramaswamy, an Indian-American presidential candidate, has reignited the debate on birthright citizenship in the United States. Ramaswamy, the son of Indian immigrants, is advocating for the end of birthright citizenship for children born to undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
The proposal was discussed during the second Republican presidential debate of the 2024 election cycle, held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California. Ramaswamy shared the stage with six other candidates, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley.
Ramaswamy’s argument harkens back to a 2015 proposal by then-candidate Donald Trump, who suggested ending birthright citizenship. The U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment states that “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.”
While the prevailing interpretation has been to grant citizenship to those born on U.S. soil, some legal scholars have argued that the phrase “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof” allows for potential restrictions on this right, similar to other constitutional principles that can be limited.
Ramaswamy contends that children born in the United States to undocumented immigrants should not be granted citizenship because their parents have violated immigration laws to be in the country.
In addition to his stance on birthright citizenship, Ramaswamy voiced support for measures such as the militarization of the southern border, defunding “sanctuary cities,” and ending foreign aid to Mexico and Central America.
Furthermore, Ramaswamy criticized the H-1B visa program, a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. companies to employ foreign workers in specialized fields. He argued that the current “lottery” system for H-1B visas should be replaced with a “meritocratic” skill-based immigration scheme that aligns with the needs of the United States.
Notably, Ramaswamy himself has utilized the H-1B visa program 29 times. According to Politico, from 2018 through 2023, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services approved 29 applications from Ramaswamy’s former company, Roivant Sciences, to hire employees under H-1B visas.
Ramaswamy’s bold policy proposals have garnered significant attention in the crowded field of Republican primary candidates. In a post-debate poll, 28 percent of 504 respondents believed that Ramaswamy performed the best.
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