Birthright citizenship in the United States is acquired by virtue of the circumstances of birth. It contrasts with citizenship acquired in other ways, for example by naturalization. Birthright citizenship may be conferred by jus soli or jus sanguinis. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), U.S. citizenship is automatically granted to any person born within and subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. This includes the territories of Puerto Rico, the Marianas(Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands), and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and also applies to children born elsewhere in the world to U.S. citizens (with certain exceptions).
The aspect of birthright citizenship conferred by jus soli (Latin: right of the soil) is regarded as controversial by some U.S. political figures, particularly those associated with white nationalism, due to its application to the native-born offspring of illegal aliens. President Donald Trump stated in October 2018 that he would remove, by means of an executive order, the right of citizenship to people born in the U.S. to foreign nationals.
The policy stems from the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The 1868 text states, “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.”
The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that approximately 7.5% of all births in the U.S. (about 300,000 births per year) are to illegal aliens. The Pew Hispanic Center also estimates that there are 4.5 million children who were born to unauthorized immigrants that received citizenship via birth in the United States; while the Migration Policy Institute estimates that there are 4.1 million children. Both estimates exclude anyone eighteen and older who might have benefited.