A South Carolina congressman on Wednesday suggested that some babies born in the U.S. from other countries don’t deserve birthright status, falsely claiming the 14th Amendment was only intended for the descendants of formerly enslaved Blacks.
Appearing on MSNBC, outgoing Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) addressed President Donald Trump‘s plans to nix the constitutional amendment guaranteeing all “persons” born in the United States the right to citizenship — a power solely reserved to Congress. When asked his thoughts on the matter, Sanford said the issue was “much too complex” to revoke with the simple stroke of a pen.
“I’m not a fan of birthright citizenship,” he told host Craig Melvin.
“Why are you not a fan of it?” Melvin inquired. “You do recognize that it’s in enshrined in the Constitution, the Fourteenth Amendment?”
The South Carolina Republican noted his co-sponsorship of a bill “that says otherwise” and claimed, “there are a number of folks who’ve said that particular interpretation is not really what the founding fathers intended.”
“The idea that you just happen to come in from Haiti or anywhere else and because you get your boat to shore, all the sudden you are open to the same rights and privileges that anybody else is, I think that’s at odds with the intent,” said Sanford. “I think it was ultimately about slavery at that time and rights that should come to former slaves.”
The Constitution makes no mention of slavery being a requirement, however. In fact, Article 1 of the 14th Amendment plainly 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.”
It continues, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Sanford, who lost his congressional seat in this year’s Republican primaries, said he’d leave the issue up to “the legal experts.”