A woman in Sullivan City, Tex., who is in the country illegally, shows the footprints of her daughter who was born in the in the United State but was denied a birth certificate. (Eric Gay/Associated Press)

The Oct. 6 editorial “The war on birthright babies” misstated the 14th Amendment, which says, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States. . . .” The crucial phrase, omitted in the editorial, is “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” That phrase means that it is not sufficient for the baby to simply be born in the United States for the baby to be a U.S. citizen. The baby must also be “subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” Testimony of those who wrote the amendment shows that this phrase meant having sole allegiance to the United States. A baby, obviously incapable of pledging allegiance to anything, is presumed to have allegiance to the parents’ country. Therefore, the 14th Amendment properly understood does not confer U.S. citizenship on babies born in the United States to foreign parents.

The editorial also said that Texas, in refusing birth certificates to babies born to illegal immigrant parents, is making the babies “stateless non-persons, devoid of rights and privileges.” This is patently absurd. Babies born abroad to U.S. citizens are U.S. citizens. They are not “stateless non-persons.” Other countries recognize babies born abroad to citizens of that country to be citizens of the parents’ country. Furthermore, all persons within the borders of the United States are entitled to certain rights and privileges whether they are citizens or not and whether they have a birth certificate or not.

Jay R. Baker, Rockville