Friday, August 20, 2010

Is it that bad that you have to go after the kids?

Republicans in Arizona would like to withhold citizenship to children born to illegal immigrants. The way this would happen would be that a hospital would be prohibited from giving a birth certificate. This, of course, violates the 14th Amendment’s Citizenship Clause which reads, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the States wherein they reside.” Basically, this means that anyone born in the United States is automatically a citizen.

There is now a growing push, particularly amongst Republicans, to amend the constitution. They claim that illegal immigrants are coming to the United States to give birth to “anchor babies.” Their thinking is that if they give birth and have their kids obtain US citizenship, it would guarantee their ability to stay in America. Stripping jus soli out of the 14th Amendment would prevent these anchor babies and keep these kids and their parents deportable.

I am against getting rid of jus soli.

I get the idea of not wanting to reward illegal aliens but doing this would punish these children. If we were to go through with this, these children would be stateless. I can envision a whole new generation of people who will be born and grow up as Americans but not as citizens. They will be just like you and I but because their parents committed an illegal act, they cannot fully participate with the body politic. And then… what happens when those non-citizens start having children of their own?

In the context of illegal immigration as a whole, just how harmful and how numerous are these, “anchor babies.” My guess is that the problem it creates is just a tiny number in comparison.

The 14th Amendment prevents politicians, to a certain extent, from fraking over, racial—but now more practically—immigrant groups. It was passed to ensure that blacks could not be denied citizenship. This overruled the Dred Scott Decision which said that black slaves or their descendants, free or not, could not be citizens of the US. This became important during the time of the Chinese Exclusion Act when Chinese immigrants who could not be naturalized themselves, started having children. The Supreme Court ruled that these children were, by virtue of their birth on American soil, American citizens.

Considering how important the 14th Amendment is to our legal rights (just consider the incorporation of the Bill of Rights through the Due Process Clause), do we really want to start tampering with it?

Keeping jus soli tends to make citizenship a simple case. If we move more towards jus sanguinis, we would have to keep track of a person’s parental lineage. Who wants to deal with those potential court claims?

I don’t think that we need an amendment to punish illegal immigrants. I would allow the new citizen to stay and their parents to stay with them. However any illegal family member caught here would be forever be ineligible to naturalize.


Kapitano said...

Is it at all likely that the 14th ammendment will be changed? No. This 'push' has no support outside one wing of the Republican party - the wing that's currently spending a month hating Ann Coulter for her speaking at Homocon.

It looks like just another excuse to scare the party base into voting in the half-term elections, with the added benefit that 'race' is always an effective way to detract from other issues.

David said...

The point of my post is about the idea of change which, actually, is a fairly popular idea with the public. But you are right in that a constitutional amendment is unlikely. However, this issue may not grow with time considering how other countries have moved away from this method, including your own.