Republicans Are Talking About Eliminating Birthright Citizenship Again

Republicans on Capitol Hill are talking about fundamentally changing what it means to be an American, and it's a bad idea.

illegal immigrants

Several times in the recent past, Republicans on Capitol Hill have taken aim at the idea of abolishing “birthright citizenship,” the principle set forth principally in the Fourteenth Amendment that provides that all persons born within the territory of the United States are, with some exceptions that typically only apply to the children of diplomats, automatically citizens of the United States. The issue came up during the 2010 midterm campaign when several Republicans, including South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham floated the idea of altering the 14th Amendment to change the birthright citizenship rule. Given the difficult of amending the Constitution, particularly when it impacts such a hot-button issue and would change one of the most important elements of the Constitution, it was clear at the time that Graham and others were simply pandering to the party’s base, which has turned quite negative on the idea of birthright citizenship over the past several years. The idea largely fell flat during the 2010 elections, but that didn’t stop Republicans from bringing the topic up when they took control of the House in 2011. Anti-immigrant groups made the issue something of a priority as the new Republican House took over that year, and in the Senate Rand Paul and David Vitter put forward a resolution in the Senate for a new Constitutional Amendment that would redefine birthright citizenship. That effort obviously went nowhere, but the issue of birthright citizenship continued to be one that the anti-immigration forces on the right would continue to bring up in their rhetoric. Now that Republicans have control of both the House and the Senate, it would appear the issue has returned and yesterday a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee headed by anti-immigration stalwart Congressman Steve King of Iowa held hearings on the issue:

WASHINGTON — Democrats in Congress frequently accuse the GOP of attacking immigrants, and on Wednesday, House Republicans gave them more fodder by holding a hearing on whether the U.S. should continue the longstanding practice of granting citizenship to all children born here.

Some Republicans argue that birthright citizenship incentivizes unauthorized immigration and birth tourism. They add that the 14th Amendment, which states that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States,” has been misinterpreted to apply to children of undocumented immigrants.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) and Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) have both introduced bills this year to end birthright citizenship, but neither has gone for a vote.

Even if those bills never get a vote — and they likely won’t — the fact that the issue got a hearing at all provided fuel for Democrats, who were fiery in their defense of the right for babies born on U.S. soil to be citizens.

“This birthright citizenship legislation and a decision to hold a hearing on its merits are outrageous examples of just how far shameless Republicans are willing to go to demonstrate their hatred for immigrants,” Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said at a press conference, accusing Republicans of using the bill to stigmatize and sow hate for immigrants.

At the same press conference, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) said, “In Spanish-language media there will be one more piece of evidence that Republicans will do anything and everything to keep their nativist wing happy.”

(…)

Many Republicans, including Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), defended the decision to hold the hearing.

“The question of whether our forefathers meant for birthright citizenship in all circumstances to be the law of the land is far from settled,” Goodlatte said at the hearing. “In any event, we must still determine if it is the right policy for America today.”

King was the most adamant that it was not the right policy. He questioned what would happen “to the demographics of America if this policy is not reversed,” and implied that Democrats may support birthright citizenship because they want to win elections.

“I don’t think I’m hearing an argument as to why it would be a good idea to grant automatic citizenship to any baby that could be born in the United States to any mother who could find a way to get into the United States,” he said. “That hands over the immigration policy to everyone except Americans. So I don’t know that that’s even a debate before this committee unless you want to expand your political base by any means necessary.”

Witnesses from the Republican side — John Eastman of the Claremont Institute’s Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, Jon Feere of the Center for Immigration Studies and University of Texas law professor Lino Graglia — all argued against granting automatic citizenship to everyone born in the U.S., either as unnecessary under the law or bad policy.

“It is difficult to imagine a more irrational and self-defeating legal system than one that makes unauthorized entry into the country a criminal offense and simultaneously provides the greatest possible inducement to illegal entry: a grant of American citizenship,” Graglia, who was testifying on behalf of himself and not the university, said during his testimony.

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank was at yesterday’s hearing and had these observations:

The 14th Amendment, King told the panel, “did not contemplate that anyone who would sneak into the United States and have a baby would have automatic citizenship conferred on them.” Added King, “I’d suggest it’s our job here in this Congress to decide who will be citizens, not someone in a foreign country that can sneak into the United States and have a baby and then go home with the birth certificate.”

It’s no small task to undo a principle, enshrined in the Constitution and upheld by the Supreme Court, that defines the United States as a nation of immigrants. It’s particularly audacious that House Republicans would undo a century and a half of precedent without amending the Constitution but merely by passing a law to reinterpret the 14th Amendment’s wording in a way that will stop the scourge of “anchor babies” and “birth tourism.”
Judiciary Committee Republicans brought in three experts to testify in support of this extraordinary maneuver (a lone Democratic witness was opposed), and they evidently had to search far and wide for people who would take this view, because they ended up with a bizarre witness: an octogenarian professor from the University of Texas named Lino Graglia.

This would be the Lino Graglia who caused a furor in 1997 when he said that Latinos and African Americans are “not academically competitive with whites” and come from a “culture that seems not to encourage achievement.” He also said at the time that “I don’t know that it’s good for whites to be with the lower classes.”

This is also the same Lino Graglia who said in a 2012 interview that black and Hispanic children are less “academically competent” than white children, and he attributed the academic gap to the “deleterious experience” of being reared by single mothers. When the interviewer, a black man, said he had a single mother, Graglia said that “my guess would be that you’re above usual smartness for whites, to say nothing of blacks.”

And this is the very same Lino Graglia whose nomination for a federal judgeship in the 1980s fell apart amid allegations that he had urged Austin residents to defy a court-ordered busing plan and had used the racist word “pickaninny” in the classroom.

Abolishing automatic citizenship for babies born on American soil, and having Graglia make the case, probably won’t help Republicans overcome their problems with minorities, who are gradually becoming the majority. Democrats, by happenstance, presented a sharp contrast to the GOP effort Wednesday: Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and others met at Washington’s Carnegie Library with a coalition including immigration and civil rights advocates to launch a new jobs campaign, “Putting Families First.”

And Lawrence Downes of The New York Times points out that the proposals that King and others are talking about would seem to go against their small government principles:

First, government officials would have to be satisfied, before issuing identity papers, that at least one parent of a new baby is a citizen. This could be a nightmare in the delivery rooms across the land, lengthening the checklist of things new parents have to worry about: onesies, diapers, wipes, car seat, passport or birth certificate. The Department of Homeland Security would have to have a Neonatal Division.

And if the restrictionists think immigrant assimilation and national cohesion are problems now, think of what it will it be like when this country switches over to the European model, with a permanent underclass of resident worker aliens, having alien children, who have alien children.

As for abolishing “birth tourism,” some think the solution could be as simple as denying visas to pregnant women – making sure that “the burden of proof will be on applicants to show that they are not pregnant or intending to give birth in the United States when applying for a visa.”

That’ll be easy, for sure. Consular offices are not crowded or chaotic places now, and it will be simple enough for them to stock up on a good supply of pregnancy sticks and menstruation questionnaires.

Those who oppose birthright citizenship surely would agree that while this sounds difficult, it is worth doing, in pursuit of a purer nation, one whose citizens’ claim to be American is supported not merely by the meaningless triviality of “where they were born,” but by ties of blood, tribal affiliation and genetic pedigree.

Perhaps the oddest part of this latest crusade by King and Vitter is the idea that the definition of birthright citizenship could somehow be changed without having to go through the laborious, and doomed, process of trying to amend the Constitution itself. Under this theory, advanced by people such as Graglia, Congress could simply pass a statute under its authority to set rules of naturalization that redefines who becomes a citizen at birth and who does not. That assertion, however, would seem to directly contradict  Section One of 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 and of the State wherein they reside

Just over 30 years after the 14th Amendment was ratified, the Supreme Court dealt with the meaning of this provision in United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898), where it said:

[T]he Fourteenth Amendment affirms the ancient and fundamental rule of citizenship by birth within the territory, in the allegiance and under the protection of the country, including all children here born of resident aliens, with the exceptions or qualifications (as old as the rule itself) of children of foreign sovereigns or their ministers, or born on foreign public ships, or of enemies within and during a hostile occupation of part of our territory, and with the single additional exception of children of members of the Indian tribes owing direct allegiance to their several tribes. The Amendment, in clear words and in manifest intent, includes the children born, within the territory of the United States, of all other persons, of whatever race or color, domiciled within the United States. Every citizen or subject of another country, while domiciled here, is within the allegiance and the protection, and consequently subject to the jurisdiction, of the United States.

(…)

The evident intention, and the necessary effect, of the submission of this case to the decision of the court upon the facts agreed by the parties were to present for determination the single question stated at the beginning of this opinion, namely, whether a child born in the United States, of parent of Chinese descent, who, at the time of his birth, are subjects of the Emperor of China, but have a permanent domicil and residence in the United States, and are there carrying on business, and are not employed in any diplomatic or official capacity under the Emperor of China, becomes at the time of his birth a citizen of the United States.

The Court’s ruling in Wong Kim Ark would seem to be in line not only with the plain language of the Amendment, but also, comments made y one of the framers of the 14th Amendment when it was first pending in Congress:

The author of the 14th Amendment, Senator Jacob Merritt Howard of Michigan proposed the addition of the jurisdiction phrase and stated that it tracked what he believed was already the law of the land. As such, he stated,“This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the family of ambassadors, or foreign ministers accredited to the the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons.”

In other words, the children born in the United States are citizens regardless of the citizenship status of their parents, the one exception being children of diplomats.

At it’s base, there is something rather un-American about the proposal that Republicans like King and Vitter are advancing. Even before the adoption of the 14th Amendment, citizenship in the United States was fairly straightforward. With the rather unfortunate and unjustifiable exception of African-Americans held in slavery, it was generally the rule that anyone born within the territory of the United States was an American citizen from birth. This was quite different from the citizenship rules that existed at the time in other parts of the world which depended on bloodlines and ancestry, a rule that still applies today in nation’s such as Germany. It was a rather unique idea at the time, but it was appropriate for a new nation which welcoming immigrants from all over the world who wanted to start a new life in a nation based on freedom and liberty. After the Civil War, the 14th Amendment was adopted in apart to codify that idea in the law once and for all. If you remove birthright citizenship, or change it radically as Republicans like King and Vitter are proposing, that will change the nature of what it means to be an American forever. Moreover, to the extent that Republicans are concerned about the idea of immigrants who have not fully assimilated in to American society, eliminating birthright citizenship would seem to not only guarantee that will continue but that it will continue across generations, thus creating divisions between people who live in the United States that didn’t exist before. One can argue that there are some social costs created by birthright citizenship, but they pale in comparison to the costs that would be incurred by society, culture, and the law if we ended it.

As I’ve said in the past, there’s virtually no chance that this will every actually become law. There wouldn’t be enough support to get a Constitutional Amendment out of Congress, never mind through the thirty-eight states needed for ratification. The legislative strategy would also seem to be a non-starter as well. While King’s subcommittee did hold a hearing on this issue, there’s no indication that Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte or any of the members of the House Leadership have any interest in moving his legislation forward, the same would appear to be true in the Senate where Vitter’s proposed bill has not even gotten a hearing. To a large degree, of course, that’s because top Republicans realize just how damaging a proposal like this could be to Republicans nationwide if it actually started moving forward. The Latino vote would be out of reach for the foreseeable future, for example, and younger voters likely wouldn’t find much appeal in the idea either. Even if it did come up for a vote, it probably would not pass the House, and most assuredly would not make it through the Senate. Then, of course, there’s the fact of an inevitable Presidential veto for any such legislation. So, in the end,  what we’re really seeing here is another effort by Republicans to pander to the anti-immigrant sentiment on the far right of their party. By doing so, however, they are in danger of further alienating the very voters that they need to win national elections.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Borders and Immigration, Congress, Law and the Courts, US Politics, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Console says:

    Let them go ahead and try, it’ll be like shooting fish in a barrel. Pretty much any defense for the change amounts to “but it was different when white people did it!”




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  2. Electroman says:

    The 14th Amendment, King told the panel, “did not contemplate that anyone who would sneak into the United States and have a baby would have automatic citizenship conferred on them.”

    Well, that doesn’t happen now – it’s the baby that’s the US citizen, and they didn’t sneak into the country – they were born here.

    Also, were there real restrictions on immigration to the US in the 1860s? Remember, this was before the Chinese Exclusion Act (that was in 1882). I don’t think there was any “sneaking” before that (I don’t think violating the Naturalization Act of 1802 qualifies – that was only about naturalization, not entry).




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  3. C. Clavin says:

    The 14th Amendment, King told the panel, “did not contemplate that anyone who would sneak into the United States and have a baby would have automatic citizenship conferred on them.”

    No…they had to be slaves, or the children of slaves, first.




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  4. Bob @ Youngstown says:

    Republicans in “pursuit of a purer nation”.




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  5. michael reynolds says:

    Republicans are:

    1) Trying to amend the constitution to exclude hispanics.
    2) Gerrymandering to dilute black and hispanic votes.
    3) Passing voter suppression laws to exclude youth, blacks and hispanics.
    4) Refusing to extend Medicaid for fear it would help blacks and hispanics.

    So definitely not a racist party. Definitely not a whites only party.




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  6. PJ says:

    About 12 years ago:

    Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to make eligible for the Office of President a person who has been a United States citizen for 20 years.

    So, to summarize, 12 years ago, some Republicans wanted to make it possible for Schwarzenegger to become President, today they want to make sure that any kids of any of Schwarzenegger’s housekeepers who are staying illegally in the country can’t become President. (As long as Schwarzenegger isn’t the father.)

    Progress!




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  7. C FABELLA says:

    It’s a good idea. Then, maybe illegal immigration levels will decline. We now have a higher level of immigration (more immigrants as a percentage of the population) than ever before. And we can quit hearing the eternal ‘don’t punish the children’ mantra when what you really mean is ‘immigrants overwhelmingly vote Democratic so I like them’.

    And while we’re talking, why do you hate the middle class and the poor, especially poor blacks? The jobs taken by illegal immigration disproportionately belong to these groups. I bet if most of the new immigrants were lawyers or doctors or journalists, you wouldn’t be quite such a fan.

    But don’t worry. When is the last time the Republican Congress achieved a goal for the good of their so-called base? I can’t think of an instance in the last five years. It’s all kabuki theater.




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  8. grumpy realist says:

    Um, I think the outreach program is thataway (points in exact opposite direction from where the Republican Party is charging.)




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  9. DrDaveT says:

    Pretty much any defense for the change amounts to “but it was different when white people did it!”

    OK, if only to make it clear that not all Progressives agree about everything, I’ll take the rebuttal on this one.

    (Not that I don’t agree that most anti-birthright activists have racist motives, mind you.)

    There are, in fact, arguments against birthright citizenship that is not based on race or culture. I happen to think it’s a pretty good argument. It’s based on the idea that, when this system was originally established, at least three things were different:
    1) travel was slow and dangerous
    2) the US desperately wanted immigrants, skilled or unskilled, to help displace the natives and exploit the resources of the West. (In the South, add “…and to outnumber the negroes”.)
    3) the quality of life in the US was not as much higher than elsewhere as it is today

    Among those who could manage to get to the US after learning they were pregnant, it simply wasn’t economically compelling to do so — unless they planned to stay here forever, which made them simply more immigrants like all the others. Among those not yet pregnant but with means to travel, there was again no compelling economic reason to come here to have a baby — unless you were going to immigrate anyway. And we wanted immigrants, badly.

    I am very much in favor of more open borders than we currently have — but I am NOT in favor of allowing wealthy non-immigrant foreigners to buy US citizenship for their kids for the price of a plane ticket. If they intended those kids to be raised as Americans, that would be different.

    I don’t mind the Mexican farm laborer babies nearly as much as I mind the Chinese citizenship tourists. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that citizenship should be for Americans — of whatever color, background, religion, economic status, or what have you. You want your kid to be an American? Cool, welcome to America. You want your kid to be a US citizen, but not an American? Sorry.




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  10. David M says:

    @C FABELLA:

    We now have a higher level of immigration (more immigrants as a percentage of the population) than ever before.

    I’m not entirely sure this accurate, especially given the well known slow down in illegal immigration over the last decade. What percentage of US population is foreign born?




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  11. munchie the box troll says:

    This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the family of ambassadors, or foreign ministers accredited to the the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons.”. .. WOW Doug thats quite a stretch …to ….get … To….This…other words, the children born in the United States are citizens regardless of the citizenship status of their parents, the one exception being children of diplomats.…. No it says right there foreigners and aliens…excluded.
    Opponents argue that “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” limits this meaning and excludes the children of illegal aliens. The author of the 14th Amendment, Senator Jacob Merritt Howard of Michigan proposed the addition of the jurisdiction phrase …..hhhhmmmm I wonder why he did that?

    Oh turd mouth everything isn’t about racism….good god give it rest.




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  12. grumpy realist says:

    @munchie the box troll: It’s because diplomats and similar aren’t subject to the jurisdiction of the US, dingbat.




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  13. ernieyeball says:

    King was the most adamant that it was not the right policy. He questioned what would happen “to the demographics of America if this policy is not reversed,” and implied that Democrats may support birthright citizenship because they want to win elections.

    I would suggest that Republicans are opposing birthright citizenship because they want to win elections.




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  14. ernieyeball says:

    King was the most adamant that it was not the right policy. He questioned what would happen “to the demographics of America if this policy is not reversed,” and implied that Democrats may support birthright citizenship because they want to win elections.

    I would suggest that Republicans are opposing birthright citizenship because they want to win elections.




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  15. munch the troll says:

    Maybe you should reread the bolded text grumpy.




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  16. munch the troll says:

    …and if you are an illegal you are not subject to the jurisdiction are you?




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  17. ernieyeball says:

    Double Trouble

    Couldn’t have done that if I tried.




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  18. Gustopher says:

    So, the conservative-approved amendments are the 2nd and the 10th?




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  19. ernieyeball says:

    @DrDaveT: I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that citizenship should be for Americans — of whatever color, background, religion, economic status, or what have you. You want your kid to be an American? Cool, welcome to America. You want your kid to be a US citizen, but not an American? Sorry.

    So are you going to post up a proposed Amendment to Our Great Charter that will bring this about?




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  20. grumpy realist says:

    Speaking of Not Getting The Point….

    I guess the entire side on the right has no use for darker-skinned people aside from the role saying “yes, massah!” and tugging their forelocks.

    No wonder President Obama drives them insane.




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  21. grumpy realist says:

    @munch the troll: Like hell you aren’t. You’re saying that an illegal immigrant, if he committed a murder, would have a get-out-of-jail card by saying “I’m not subject to your jurisdiction, your honor!”

    Yeah, try THAT argument as that guy’s lawyer and you will be very unpleasantly surprised.




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  22. DrDaveT says:

    @ernieyeball:

    So are you going to post up a proposed Amendment to Our Great Charter that will bring this about?

    A claim was made that all arguments against birthright citizenship as it now stands are racist at heart. I posted a counterexample. If you think you can get to your conclusion from there, knock yourself out.




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  23. C. Clavin says:
  24. Stan says:

    @David M: The percentage of immigrants in the Canadian and Australian populations is larger than in ours, and isn’t that much smaller in Germany and the Netherlands. These countries haven’t lost their identities because of immigration, and neither will ours. Try to get over your fears. American culture trumps all, and the dreaded anchor babies of today will be great citizens tomorrow.




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  25. Andre Kenji says:

    Unless you are living in the United States, being an US Citizen is a horrible idea. You´ll probably have to pay a lot of taxes, specially if you are an wealthy person that likes to travel to New York. As a Brazilian citizen, at least I can use the Brazilian Public Healthcare system If I get really sick while living abroad, but we are talking about the United States.

    Undocumented immigrants are basically second class citizens, simply expanding the number of them is a horrible idea.




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  26. SC_Birdflyte says:

    If I recall correctly, the first major Federal law dealing specifically with who was allowed into the U.S. (and hence might have children eligible for citizenship) was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Contrary to what many people believe, the U.S. has only in the last century or so had a corpus of legislation about immigration, undocumented or not. It might be interesting, though, for the bill to win approval and a Presidential signature and then, in the course of the inevitable litigation, watch Scalia and Thomas contort themselves into knots trying to square it with the original intent of the 14th Amendment.




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  27. Jenos Idanian #13 says:
  28. superdestroyer says:

    Who cares what the Republicans are proposing. It will never be passed or implimented. However, due to the current immigration rules of the U.S. politics will be a product of one dominant political party that is arranged for different ethnic groups to fight over government entitlements and who pays for them.

    What is amazing is that the U.S. has decided the way to eventually discourage immigration to the U.S. is to lower the standard of living of most citizens so that there is no draw to the U.S. for economic refugees.




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  29. bill says:

    @Electroman: try that in most of the world- it doesn’t work. we really don’t need more immigrants here to do the work our lazy people won”t do- we need to get rid of the notion that we’re “entitled” to more than we are. i don’t mind allowing “worthy” immigrants (those who can actually contribute to the society/economy) but taking in the rest of the worlds problems is not really helping us these days- especially when we allow them to no even try to acclimate to our way of life.




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  30. CB says:

    @bill:

    but taking in the rest of the worlds problems is not really helping us these days- especially when we allow them to no even try to acclimate to our way of life.

    “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
    With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

    Just some bullshit on a plaque, I guess.




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  31. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @munch the troll: Maybe you should reread the Amendment using English grammar rules.




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  32. Grumpy Realist says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: the problem is, we’ve got a lot of people who have never bothered (or can’t afford) to go through the process of getting a passport. Remember when people were allowed across the border on day trips to Mexico with just some form of identification?

    add to that the number of people (especially the elderly) who were born at home and what you’re doing is a) asking for proof of something that a lot of people don’t have and b) can’t get the proof for. You gonna kick Miss Daisy out of the country because she can’t prove she was born at the Hanson farm 83 years ago?

    Not gonna happen.




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  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @bill: Ahhhh yes, and I suppose you are qualified to decide who is worthy and who is not?

    as for,

    especially when we allow them to no even try to acclimate to our way of life.

    There’s this tiny little American value which some of us actually believe in, it’s called “freedom”, as in we allow people to decide how they want to live. Ever hear of it?




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  34. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Yeah, it’s funny how 7 years of people calling you a Kenyan Marxist Traitor and asking to see your birth certificate might make you see “proof of citizenship” initiatives as attempts to suppress the melanin proficient folks.

    Crazy, huh?

    (Man, you aren’t even trying to sound intelligent anymore.)




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  35. gVOR08 says:

    @superdestroyer: Actually, SD, that seemed to be Ronald Reagan’s jobs plan, and still the Republican plan. Export all the jobs to third world countries. By doing so drive down wages until the US is a third world country. Then catch the jobs coming around the backside.




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  36. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Neil Hudelson: I was unaware that a significant portion of the Obama administration had been accused of being Kenyan Marxist Traitors. The second and third terms, yeah, I can see those, but are there that many who have some kind of Kenyan connection?

    We know Obama doesn’t have any real solid ties to the Kenyan side of his family. Right after he talked about how we have to be our brothers’ keepers, it came out that his half-brother is living in a hovel. Hell, Dinesh D’Souza has done more to support Obama’s Kenyan relatives than Obama himself has.

    And did you even read the article I linked to? People are being signed up to vote by default,

    Finally, can you stop hiding behind the birther idiots? The argument of “a few idiots on one side keep saying something stupid, so we can get away with anything” was BS from day one. They’ve done far more good for Obama than harm, so it’s no wonder that the left keeps trying to put them front and center, but it’s just plain dishonest.




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  37. al-Ameda says:

    The 14th Amendment, King told the panel, “did not contemplate that anyone who would sneak into the United States and have a baby would have automatic citizenship conferred on them.” Added King, “I’d suggest it’s our job here in this Congress to decide who will be citizens, not someone in a foreign country that can sneak into the United States and have a baby and then go home with the birth certificate.”

    It’s always dog whistle time in the Republican Party.

    The only reason Republicans are obsessed with birthright citizenship is because the immigrants they’re referring to are from Mexico and other Central American nations. Republicans generally do not care about the numbers of people (from Canada, the UK, Ireland, to name some relevant examples) who are here because they overstayed their visitor, student or work visas and do not want to return.




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  38. Vendrell says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Portraying the birther movement as just a “few idiots” is revisionist history. As recently as 2011, 51 percent of GOP primary voters thought Obama was born abroad even after his birth certificate was released.

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0211/49554.html




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  39. Xenos says:

    Birthright citizenship was the compromise that brought both former slaves and former confederates into citizenship. Do we want to renegotiate that deal, now?




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  40. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Finally, can you stop hiding behind the birther idiots? The argument of “a few idiots on one side keep saying something stupid, so we can get away with anything” was BS from day one.

    I was unaware “the majority of Republican voters” = “a few idiots.” *

    *To be clear, the quibble is about the term “few.” You’re absolutely correct about the idiocy of the majority of the Republican party.




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  41. mantis says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Meanwhile, on the other side, the Obama administration is fighting to keep states from asking for proof of citizenship before registering people to vote. Kansas and Arizona are foolishly fighting for the right to violate the National Voter Registration Act in order to infringe on the voting rights of citizens who do not possess the proper paperwork, who are mostly Democrats. For obvious reasons.

    FTFY.




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  42. Barry says:

    @DrDaveT: “There are, in fact, arguments against birthright citizenship that is not based on race or culture. I happen to think it’s a pretty good argument. It’s based on the idea that, when this system was originally established, at least three things were different:

    1) travel was slow and dangerous”

    That’s odd, because in 1860, the foreign-born percentage of the US population was over 30%; today it’s 13%.




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  43. Barry says:

    @munch the troll: “…and if you are an illegal you are not subject to the jurisdiction are you? ”

    Yes, you are.




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  44. Barry says:

    @DrDaveT: ” I posted a counterexample.”

    Which was factually wrong.




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  45. Barry says:

    @Andre Kenji: “Unless you are living in the United States, being an US Citizen is a horrible idea. You´ll probably have to pay a lot of taxes, specially if you are an wealthy person that likes to travel to New York. As a Brazilian citizen, at least I can use the Brazilian Public Healthcare system If I get really sick while living abroad, but we are talking about the United States.”

    I’m really horrified that rich US citizens pay a lot of taxes.




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  46. Barry says:

    @SC_Birdflyte: “…watch Scalia and Thomas contort themselves into knots trying to square it with the original intent of the 14th Amendment. ”

    Both are highly dishonest people who have no problem contradicting themselves from cases to case; they’d love it. And it’s clear after the past 15 years that the GOP SCOTUS justices are quite happy with political decisions.




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  47. DrDaveT says:

    @Barry:

    That’s odd, because in 1860, the foreign-born percentage of the US population was over 30%; today it’s 13%.

    Where’s the contradiction? When travel is slow and dangerous, people only travel for important reasons. Like immigration. They don’t flit back and forth, or pop in for a quick birth. I’m not sure why you find that confusing.




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  48. DrDaveT says:

    @Barry:

    Which was factually wrong.

    The stated argument was “US citizenship should be reserved for people who want to be Americans”. I’m not sure how that could be “factually wrong”, given that it doesn’t depend on any particular facts. Any rebuttal would need to be on either moral or policy grounds.




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  49. Ariostea says:

    In the 1920s my grandparents (Italian citizens) emigrate to the U.S. (We think legally but the family history is a little fuzzy). My father and his two siblings are born here and, thanks to the 14th Amendment, are American citizens. Grandparents send money to a relative in Italy for him to build a house for them and move back to Italy in 1932. When they get to Italy, they find that relative has absconded with the money. After a year or so, they say “hey, it was better in the U.S. Lets go back.” However Il Duce doesn’t want to let go of any able-bodied men (he had this little idea about recreating the glory of the Roman Empire). Grandparents hike down to the U.S. embassy, produce birth certificates of the kids and voila, the family returns with my grandparents as the kids’ legal guardians, under U.S. law. So that makes my father an anchor baby. No birthright citizenship, no me (or at least I grow up in Sicily instead of suburban Maryland). Three guesses about what side I take in this debate.




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  50. ernieyeball says:

    @Ariostea:..Three guesses about what side I take in this debate.

    I bet it’s closer to Vienna (Dorchester County) Maryland than the other one.




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  51. Barry says:

    @Xenos: ” Do we want to renegotiate that deal, now? ”

    The right does, because they assume that they’ll get the better of it.




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  52. Barry says:

    @DrDaveT: “Where’s the contradiction? When travel is slow and dangerous, people only travel for important reasons. Like immigration. They don’t flit back and forth, or pop in for a quick birth. I’m not sure why you find that confusing. ”

    Re-read your original comment. Or better yet, have a friend read it to you.




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  53. Barry says:

    @DrDaveT: “It’s based on the idea that, when this system was originally established, at least three things were different:
    1) travel was slow and dangerous”

    I pointed out that travel was *not* so slow and dangerous as to prevent a large percentage of the US population from being foreign born.




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  54. Andre Kenji says:

    @Barry: No, they don´t. But if you are a US citizen living outside the United States you are going to pay taxes both for Uncle Sam and for your host country. I don´t know why people would want to inflict that in their children.




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  55. DrDaveT says:

    @Barry:

    I pointed out that travel was *not* so slow and dangerous as to prevent a large percentage of the US population from being foreign born.

    OK, I’ll use small words.

    When travel is slow and hard, long distance travel tends to be one-way, not round trip. Like, say, immigrants.

    You’re also conveniently ignoring that the population (and population density) of the US (relative to the rest of the world) was much lower then. That, combined with the economic opportunity of all that open land in the west and midwest, would be enough to make the foreign-born proportion higher then, even without changes in immigration policy.




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  56. Console says:

    @DrDaveT:

    You didn’t really post a counter-example… you simply made an explanation about why immigration was different when white people did it. And you have some weird hang up about people gaining citizenship while not living as Americans… as if there’s some major policy issue to someone being able to have a US passport. One of those solutions in search of a problem.




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  57. Barry says:

    @DrDaveT: “When travel is slow and hard, long distance travel tends to be one-way, not round trip. Like, say, immigrants.”

    Let me help you here:

    The percentage of foreign born people in 1860 was almost three times what it is now. People have been coming in substantial numbers for a loooooong time.




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