Monday, February 6, 2012

Public Forum: Help for the Birthright Pro case

For more about Public Forum Debate including topic analysis, strategies and links to evidence, *click here*.

Having now recovered from an intense debate tournament this past weekend, I am happy to confirm the PF Birthright Citizenship case was debated and I can tell you for certain, Pro did win debates quite often.  While a number of those wins may have resulted from pure debate skill, judging by the number of wins in break rounds, I can conclude that many of those victories are based on good cases and not the skill of experienced debaters.  I personally, did not get a chance to judge any PF this past weekend and I made no inquiries as to what kind of cases were being made either Pro or Con so my opinions are based solely on my personal knowledge of the issue and the research I do to support the commentaries you are now reading.

Where to Find Evidence
Good, scholarly evidence is out there.  Most of the better evidence comes from the writings of analysts who routinely look at legal issues and Court decisions.  There are also some well informed and cogent arguments being put forth in support of abolishing jus soli citizenship.  Much of the rhetoric found in simple google searches will result in all manner of biased opinions with very little hard-core substance which can be effective against a well-framed, warranted Con case.  One of the best ways to access good information in electronic format, is through the use of a subscription search service like EBSCOhost.  EBSCOhost provides access to a decent search engine connected to hundreds of journal databases and returns links to the kinds of peer-reviewed papers and scholarly commentary that makes excellent evidence.  EBSCOhost is not free, and generally not accessible by the average high-school student researching a debate topic.  But all is not lost...

Many libraries across the country subscribe to services such as EBSCOhost and most provide two ways to access the data.  The most obvious is to use a library computer but you may not know that many library systems will also allow access from your home internet provider.  All you generally need to do is find the proper link on your local library internet page, and gain access to an extensive index of research databases, perfect for debate or a myriad of homework assignments.  All that is needed to log in is a library card and they are free at your local library.  Additionally, some libraries will provide access to journals and articles maintained by JSTOR, Sage Publishing, Lexis-Nexis and the like.  Some of these services may be restricted from home access but still accessible from library computers.  Simply download the articles and email them to yourself from the library.  Check with your library to see what is available and what facilities are provided for accessing and storing the information.

Additional evidence is available from a number of other subscriptions services which provide topic "briefs".  These services will provide documents containing some explanation, definitions and an array of carded evidence useful for both sides a particular topic.  Access to these briefs is typically by annual subscriptions assigned to the school.  Each student from the school who is given the login credentials has equal access to the information.

Personally, I prefer when students research, find their own evidence, analyze it, and cut their own cards, rather than pull cards from briefs.  There is a wealth of personal edification which results from doing it the "hard way" which is directly applicable to future research as a college student.  Nevertheless, utilizing briefs, also has advantages in that students can spend less time researching and put more time into the case structure and delivery.  In some respects, one could say access to Policy Debate open evidence is a kind of "briefs" service which is invaluable to getting a policy case off the ground, so to speak.  But when it comes time to take the case to the next level, there is no substitute to doing conventional research, analysis and cutting cards.

Some Useful Evidence for the Pro Case
Following is a random sampling of journals, articles, or papers I found using an EBSCOhost service which can be useful to the Pro case.  I cite these merely as a demonstration to show how one can find evidence if they are willing to "upgrade" from a google-like search engine. You may or may not be able to find these same articles using your local access to a EBSCOhost search provider.

Citation: 15 Georgetown Immigration Law Journal 519 2000-2001
Content downloaded/printed from HeinOnline (

  • Provides a historical summary of the debates which emerged following the ratification of the 14th Amendment and Supreme Court's ruling in U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark.  An examination of mutual consent theory of citizenship, the implications on State's Rights and looks at the arguments supporting the jus sanguinis tradition of the law of nations rather than the jus soli inheritance from common law.

Citation: 22 Georgetown Immigration Law Journal 221 2007-2008
Content downloaded/printed from HeinOnline (

  • An useful look at the jus soli tradition in common law and the "ligeance" of the birthright citizen, the intent behind the 14th Amendment, and the "moral relation of the parents to the state".

Ashley E. Mendoza
Journal of Law and Family Studies, vol 13, 2011, pg 203-213

  • An argument which supports the claim the 14th Amendment was mis-interpreted and discusses several alternatives to overturn the current interpretation.

Birthright citizenship in the United Kingdom and the United States: a comparative analysis of the common law basis for granting citizenship to children born of illegal immigrants 
Michael Robert W. Houston 
Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law. 33.3 (May 2000): p693. 

  • Another in-depth examination of the relationship between common law and the 14th Amendment. Regarding the United Kingdom's departure from common law in 1981, "By altering common law territorial birthright citizenship, the United Kingdom made a policy decision defining British citizenship based on the child's bond to the United Kingdom as evidenced by the citizenship status of their parent.(144) The alteration of 375 years of common law signified a departure from the importance of the territorial component, as expounded by Coke in Calvin's Case, and an acceptance of the mutual bond theory that is the basis of Lockean consent theory.(145) The birth of a child within the territorial limits of the United Kingdom is not the sole factor to determine British citizenship because consent of the sovereign (or ligeance) is not established, that is, a child's parentage under the British Act is not established. Therefore, consent of the sovereign is absent, as evidenced in the express language in the BNA, which posits consent of the sovereign in terms of whether one of the children's parents is a British citizen."

Jessie M. Mahr
Citation: 32 Southern Illinois University Law Journal 723 2007-2008
Content downloaded/printed from HeinOnline (

  • While this paper is a call to recognize Constructive Deportation in the case of infant birthright citizens and their parents, it is useful for the Pro side insofar as it provides interesting information about the current situation and supports the argument that such children confer no special privileges to their parents.

John C. Eastman
Citation: 42 U. Rich. L. Rev. 955 2007-2008
Content downloaded/printed from HeinOnline (

  • An examination of the case of Yaser Esam Hamdi, a birthright citizen who was accused of assisting alleged Al-Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan.


  1. how would you use the Constructive Deportation argument on the AFF?

    1. Because, in the case of Coleman v United States and many similar challenges afterward, the Court has consistently ruled that deportation of the parents does not constitute Constructive Deportation and does not infringe the citizen child's constitutional rights. This fact disarms any Con claims that deportation violates the rights of the child or somehow the fact of the child's citizenship makes it more difficult or illegitimate to deport the parents.

  2. What would you say on the affirmative if your opponents ask you in Cross-Examination what happens to the parents of the anchor babies? Would you respond that they resume in the U.S.? and How would you find evidence on this?

  3. "Anchor babies" is a derogatory term, so I think if someone asked me about anchor babies, I would make that point in my response. If I recall correctly, the term originated in the 1980s in reference to what were then known as the Vietnamese Boat People who were refugees fleeing Communism in southeast Asia. Many of the refugees had children on U.S. soil and these children, of course, were granted citizenship. Those babies, were dubbed "anchor babies" by certain American's concerned about the immigrant infiltration into their regions. The fact is, the parents of these citizen children are deported (of course legitimate refugees can be granted asylum). Many feel these children have an advantage when they become adults, because they can sponsor their parents and other non-citizen relatives to apply for entry visas and possibly apply for citizenship.

    So to make a long story short, point out that anchor babies is a derogatory term, give your opponent a 20 second history lesson, and demonstrate how much more knowledgable you are about the issue. The parents are deported and in many cases, the babies remain with their non-citizen parents as they return to their home country. Check out the case of Coleman v. U.S. and perhaps you can find some useful facts here:

  4. One more point about deportation. The fact these non-citizen parents are deported is beneficial to the PRO case, because it means, if birthright citizenship is revoked, what happens to these families is still the same, they are returned to their homeland, even as they are today. The only difference is, the children will not be able to return as adults and claim rights as citizens.


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