In a recent CNN editorial, representative Mike Honda made the case for birthright citizenship, i.e. he supported the premise that simply by virtue of being born in America, a child is automatically considered an American citizen.
The very title of this article is typical of the tactics of the left. Not enough to state the premise that Babies born in the U.S. are Citizens – a premise that was very weakly supported by the article itself – no, the title has to preface itself with “Constitution 101.” As if to imply that if you don’t accept this premise, then your knowledge of the constitution is obviously sub-par. This sort of debate tactic detracts from the dialog by being dismissive of the point of view of anyone who has the audacity to disagree with the left. In such a climate, no meaningful dialog can take place.
The opening statement asserts that this issue clouds the debate. No, congressman, it does not cloud the debate, it’s one of the central issues to be debated.
At the risk of being redundant, the text of the 14th amendment 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 congressman then accuses the Republicans of redefining the clause, and assembles a nice straw man argument about what the Republicans propose. The rest of the editorial is devoted to demolishing this straw man, and is therefore mostly irrelevant, except for one statement that bears discussion: “Any deportation plan of America's undocumented immigrants would cost our country's gross domestic product $2.6 trillion over the next 10 years. . . if we embrace comprehensive immigration reform, we add $1.5 trillion to the U.S. gross domestic product over the next 10 years.”
Notwithstanding that the esteemed congressman is pretty much pulling fuzzy numbers out of thin air with the support of a single academic, he makes an assumption that is often central to the left’s position regarding immigration reform: How on earth will we deport these people? How will we do it humanely? And how would we pay for such an operation that would eclipse the Nazi deportation of Jews from German occupied Europe? (nice imagery, suggesting that deporting illegals from the US is akin to sending them to concentration camps, gas chambers and ovens. How inhumane!).
This is a non-issue. People come to this country illegally for a reason. Remove those reasons, and you don’t have to round them up and deport them. They will self-deport, at no cost to the US taxpayer. Make it illegal to provide public services to illegal aliens – this includes welfare, food stamps, child care services, education, free medical services, driver’s licenses. Attempts to procure these services should result in a phone call to the INS. Emergency medical care should be provided, but if the patient cannot prove their immigration status upon request, the INS should be notified. Employers need to be held accountable for ensuring they do not hire undocumented workers, and fined a minimum of $100,000 per worker per year if they are caught employing illegal aliens. This will remove the financial incentive to exploit a pool of cheap labor. Landlords should be similarly fined for providing housing to illegals.
With no place to live, no work, and no freebies, the desire to be in America will disappear, and the advantages of working within the legal immigration system will become attractive.
The left will argue that it’s an unnecessary burden to require people to carry proof of citizenship at all times. This is hogwash. I am the child of an immigrant, and I know for a fact that persons visiting this country are required by law to carry proof of their immigration status with them at all times. My mother was never far from her green card. Neither was my wife before she became a citizen. No one, except possibly our esteemed Commander-in-Chief, should have a problem acquiring a copy of their birth certificate. This is required to obtain a passport, or to enlist in the US military. This argument also assumes that people in a position to question a person’s immigration status are complete morons and can’t tell when someone’s accent, dress or customs scream “foreigner!”
I would also like to point out that one of the conditions for obtaining a visa to this country is that the petitioner have a sponsor who is obligated to support and provide for the visa holder if necessary so that they do not become a burden on society during their stay here.
Congressman Honda correctly states that the 14th Amendment was part of a set that ended slavery, guaranteed equal protection, and provided all Americans with the right to vote. Therein we need to examine original intent and understand what the words say. The intent of this clause was to codify the citizenship status of freed black slaves in the USA. Born here, but not recognized as American citizens, they obviously knew no other country, and owed no allegiance to any other flag. This amendment quite properly defined them as citizens by virtue of their birth. But the key phrase is “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.”
How is one subject to the jurisdiction of the United States when they have sneaked into the country in violation of that country’s laws, and are living “off the grid?” Their actions themselves show an express desire to avoid the jurisdiction of the United States. Further, as citizens of another country, they have at their avail the consular services of their mother country, and certain limited diplomatic protections afforded to visitors to this country. This implies that they’re subject to the jurisdiction of their mother country, as well as the laws of the country they happen to be in at the moment. These are not stateless persons who require constitutional protection to guarantee their citizenship. They are expressly citizens of their home countries, and therefore fall outside of the intended category of stateless persons that the 14th amendment addressed. For this reason, the whole idea of American Citizens being born to non-citizens who have flaunted the immigration laws of the U.S. should be a null issue.
Of course, the Democratic party champions the rights of illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants typically come from the lowest income levels of society, in their home country and here in the U.S. They are the ones most likely to avail themselves of public assistance, and do not have a moral or ethical reservation about feeding from the public trough, as more conservative citizens do. By virtue of their nebulous immigration status, they harbor no aspirations to succeed in business and realize the American dream of self-sufficiency and independence. Their motivation seems to be to get as much as they can while the getting is good, and send as much as possible to help support their families in their mother country. In this regard, they are the penultimate liberal democrat voting demographic. Indeed, one could say that illegal aliens are undocumented Democrats. Of course Congressman Honda is going to be an advocate for them. They’re his base.
But they’re not Americans.