President Donald Trump’s call to end birthright citizenship has roiled the political environment and sets the stage for more probing debate about the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. So what’s at stake?

Though births by illegal aliens are, by definition, difficult to quantify with exactitude, recent research estimates that 297,000 “birthright babies” were born in this country in 2014 (the latest year for which reliable census data was available).

Putting those 297,000 births in perspective, an analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies found:

• Births to illegals exceeded the total number of births in any state other than California and Texas. The number is larger than the total number of births in 16 states and the District of Columbia, combined.

• The estimated 28,000 births to illegal aliens in the Los Angeles metro area alone was more than the total number of births in 14 states and the District of Columbia.
• California topped the list with an estimated 65,000 births. Texas followed with 51,000; Florida, 16,000; Illinois, 14,000; Georgia, 13,000; New York, 12,000; and New Jersey and North Carolina with 11,000 each.

• Nevada had the highest share of births to illegals, nearly one in six. Births to illegals accounted for one in seven births in California and Texas.

• Two of every three illegal alien mothers are either uninsured or on Medicaid. The cost to taxpayers is estimated to exceed $2 billion annually.

• In North Carolina, Texas and Georgia, three-fourths of births to illegals were likely paid for by taxpayers. In California, Florida and New York, two-thirds of these births were likely taxpayer funded. In Illinois and New Jersey, more than half were likely paid by the public.

• Illegal aliens accounted for more than one in seven births in the Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Jose, Dallas and Houston metro areas. Typically, two-thirds to three-fourths of these births are paid for by taxpayers.

Birthing costs are, of course, just the tip of the iceberg since the automatic citizenship of “anchor babies” enables them, as adults, to sponsor their illegal-alien parents for U.S. green cards. A FAIR study last year estimated that U.S. taxpayers shell out $134.9 billion to cover the costs incurred by individuals illegally in this country.

Although legal and illegal immigration adds substantially to the number of U.S. births, the CIS report noted that it raises the nation’s overall birth rate by only 4 percent. This is partly because immigrant fertility is not much higher than that of natives.

But there’s a caveat. Comparing Census reports with birth certificate records from the National Center for Health Statistics, CIS researchers concluded “there is likely some undercount of immigrant births” in the Census data.
All the more reason to bring the dubious concept of birthright citizenship out of the shadows for an unflinching and long-overdue constitutional examination.