On the eve of this nation's holiday in honor of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., America's and the world's great icon of racial justice, the equality of all human beings, and opposition to discrimination and prejudice in any form, Axios reports that the Trump administration is planning to issue rules to stop what it calls "birth tourism", i.e. travel to the US to give birth to children who will then automatically become US citizens under the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. See:

Scoop: Trump to target "birth tourism" in new immigration fight


This attempt to whip up hysteria over a practice involving a tiny percentage of people entering the US, reportedly estimated (by an avowedly anti-immigrant organization, Center for Immigration Studies) at no more than 33,000 per year, recalls the darkest days of 19th century racial discrimination against Chinese immigrants and African-American US citizens.

According to an opinion piece by Brian Lonergan in The Hill dated February 7, 2019 about the alleged danger posed by what the article calls the "birth tourism scam", the largest groups of women engaging in the totally legal practice of coming to the US to give birth are from China and Nigeria, as well as from Russia.


One has to wonder whether Donald Trump would be so concerned about this issue if the women involved were all from the"Countries like Norway" which he favors as sources of US immigration instead of what he reportedly called "shithole countries" in nonwhite areas of the world.at a White House conference almost exactly two years ago.


By reportedly attacking a form of legal immigration allegedly associated with China and West Africa, the Trump administration is reviving the specter of the virulent 19th Century racism which led to the two of the most shameful episodes in America's entire history of laws regarding immigration and citizenship.

I refer to the infamous 1857 Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott v. Sanford, in which Chief Justice Roger B. Taney wrote that African-Americans could never be US citizens because of what Taney regarded as their racial inferiority. I also refer to the equally infamous Chinese exclusion laws beginning in 1882, one of whose provisions was that no Chinese immigrant could ever become naturalized as a US citizen.

The 14th Amendment's guarantee of US citizenship to virtually every child born in the US (except the children of foreign diplomats, who are not subject to US jurisdiction) was enacted to protect the rights and basic human dignity of African-Americans, who had only been recently emancipated from slavery. And as the Supreme Court ruled three decades later in Wong Kim Ark (1898 ) the 14th Amendment was enacted to protect not only African-Americans specifically, but all human beings born in the United States, from hatred, discrimination and denial of basic human rights because of their race.

The campaign against "birth tourism" is not limited to attacking a small handful of women who may come to the US in order to give birth to their children in the land of freedom, equality and democracy. As the above cited article shows, attacking "birth tourism" is only the beginning of chipping away at the entire concept of birthright citizenship, including citizenship for the children of millions of people who are demeaningly called "illegal aliens" by immigration opponents.

And, as the above opinion piece article also shows, the attack by Trump and his supporters is not only against birthright citizenship in general, but also on family-based legal immigration which has benefited tens of millions of immigrants over the past several decades, including many who are not from Trump's favored white "Countries like Norway", and which he and other immigration opponents often refer to by the pejorative term "Chain Migration."

The "scam" is not "birth tourism" itself. The real scam is the Trump administration's reported plan to use "birth tourism" as a wedge to try to destroy America's entire system of birthright citizenship, or at least large parts of it.

Such a plan threatens to take this country back toward the direction of Dred Scott
and the 19th and early 20th century Chinese exclusion laws which will remain as stains on the history of America for as long as this country endures.

Roger Algase
Attorney at Law.
Harvard College A.B
Harvard Law School LL.B