The federal govt has sole jurisdiction in making and enforcing immigration laws and regulations in the US.

"The US immigration policy is regulated at the federal level. Although certain matters pertain to the states, federal laws trump those laws. There may be occasional circumstances in which the states play a bigger role, but generally, federal law has more power to enforce the immigration laws of the US."

It's generally unconstitutional for states to make their own laws regarding immigration into the US.

Is the act of birthing a new American (since a fetus is not a citizen until birth) a function of immigration law? IE state laws regulating birth (either forcing them or preventing them) would not be constitutional as they are regulating immigration separate from the Federal govt.

  • Note this would not make a federal regulation of birthing unconstitutional.
    – user319249
    May 18, 2022 at 11:42
  • If they are born in USA they would be natural born citizens and not subject to immigration laws. May 18, 2022 at 12:31
  • Please back up this assertion with data.
    – user319249
    May 18, 2022 at 12:33
  • @user319249, the 14th Ammendment has always been interpreted (except by AH Nativists) to mean that birth in the USA confers citizenship.
    – Tiger Guy
    May 18, 2022 at 14:14
  • 1
    Giving birth in the USA means that there is no immigration. Once born, the baby is a US citizen (with some unusual exceptions) and therefore cannot possible immigrate anymore, and of course has no need at all to immigrate because they are already there :-)
    – gnasher729
    May 18, 2022 at 16:26

1 Answer 1


While in many areas of law the federal government and states have concurrent jurisdiction, immigration is not one of them.

The federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over immigration, and the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution makes birth in the United States an event relevant for citizenship, although Congressionally enacted immigration law also makes birth to a U.S. citizen or U.S. national parent relevant for immigration law.

So far as I know, state laws sometimes state that life begins at conception, but never say that birth occurs at some other time such as conception, and birth is the relevant event for immigration law. But that doesn't mean that a state couldn't enact a law that stated that birth occurs at conception (indeed, something close to that concept is the law in South Korea where historically you have been counted as one year old at birth and you get one year older for legal purposes each New Year's Day, regardless of when you were actually born, a law it is thinking of reforming in the near future to the global norm).

But, even if a state did this, it wouldn't matter. In the United States, words routinely mean different things in different laws. Words don't even always have the same meaning in different laws enacted by the same government. The fact that a state enacts a law defining something, for the purposes of some or all state laws, has no legal effect on the meaning of the same thing for purposes of a particular federal law. States legally define terms in a manner inconsistent with particular federal laws for their own purposes all the time.

On the other hand, this state law would not be unconstitutional, except to the limited extent that it purports to make its definition effective for purposes of federal law.

For example, a definition enacted for purposes of a homicide statute, would not conflict with an immigration law that uses a different definition, and would not be unconstitutional on the grounds that it regulated immigration which is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government.

If the state statute were ambiguous regarding whether it applied to terms in federal laws, it would be interpreted to only apply to the use of that term under state law to avoid the constitutional question that would otherwise arise.

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