Republicans Splitting On 14th Amendment “Reform”
There isn't as much GOP unity over the idea of changing America's citizenship rules as you might think.
Not every Republican is behind the idea of changing the birthright citizenship rules of the 14th Amendment:
The push by congressional Republicans to deny automatic citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants has opened up a split in the GOP, with several former Bush administration officials warning that the party could lose its claim to one of its proudest legacies: the 14th Amendment.
For Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C) and other conservatives, the solution to what they regard as one of the greatest flaws of U.S. immigration policy is obvious: Amend the amendment, which grants citizenship to anyone born on American soil regardless of whether their parents are legal residents.
But in recent days, former aides to bothVice President Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush, who pushed for comprehensive immigration reform, have condemned the calls by top Republicans to end birthright citizenship.
Cesar Conda, who served as domestic policy adviser to Cheney, has called such proposals “offensive.” Mark McKinnon, who served as media adviser in Bush’s two presidential campaigns, said Republicans risk losing their “rightful claim” to the 14th Amendment if they continue to “demagogue” the issue.
“The 14th Amendment is a great legacy of the Republican party. It is a shame and an embarrassment that the GOP now wants to amend it for starkly political reasons,” McKinnon told POLITICO. “Initially Republicans rallied around the amendment to welcome more citizens to this country. Now it is being used to drive people away.”
Enacted during Reconstruction by a Republican Congress, the 14th Amendment officially overruled the Supreme Court’s infamous Dred Scott decision and defined citizenship not only for newly enfranchised blacks but for all Americans.
For more than a century, it’s been interpreted by the courts to include children whose parents are not U.S. citizens, including illegal immigrants.
“That is the wisdom of the authors of the 14th Amendment: They essentially wanted to take this very difficult issue — citizenship — outside of the political realm,” Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson, a former Bush speechwriter, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “They wanted to take an objective standard, birth, instead of a subjective standard, which is the majorities at the time. I think that’s a much better way to deal with an issue like this.”
Gerson is largely correct.
The 14th Amendment has been a part of the Constitution for 140 years and the idea of changing it now merely to address an immigration problem that has very little to do with the so-called “anchor baby” problem makes no sense at all. Moreover, as Steven Taylor noted last week, the number of potential problems that would be created by eliminating birthright citizenship far outweigh any supposed benefits that we would gain in the process.
Citizenship in America is a simple concept. If you’re born here, you’re own of us. Get rid of that, and we will be living in a country where, to one extent or another, citizenship will depend not on birth, but on bloodlines. That’s the law in Germany and the result is that there are entire populations of people who have come to live there, who have integrated themselves into German society, and who have no connection left with their former homelands, but, because they don’t have sufficient “German blood,” they aren’t German citizens. The dangers of such a stateless class of non-citizens should be readily apparent.
I’ll take the inconvenience of a few thousand “anchor babies” a year over that any day.