Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

August 3, 2010

MCCONNELL CALLS FOR 14TH AMENDMENT HEARING.... For about 142 years now, the American political mainstream hasn't been especially troubled by the first 28 words of the 14th Amendment: "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."

But the drive to scrap this constitutional right -- in response to anti-immigrant hysteria among conservatives -- is spreading quickly. What was up until recently a fringe right-wing fantasy is now being taken seriously at the highest levels of Republican politics.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told The Hill on Monday that Congress "ought to take a look at" changing the 14th Amendment, which gives the children of illegal immigrants a right to U.S. citizenship.

McConnell's statement signals growing support within the GOP for the controversial idea, which has also recently been touted by Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

In an interview, McConnell said the 14th Amendment provision should be reconsidered in light of the country's immigration problem.

Unlike Lindsey Graham, McConnell didn't explicitly call for a constitutional amendment to repeal part of the 14th, but described the matter as "something that we clearly need to look at."

He added, "Regardless of how you feel about the various aspects of immigration reform, I don't think anybody thinks that's something they're comfortable with."

I have no idea what this means. Everyone is uncomfortable with birthright citizenship? The law of the land for the last 142 years, written into constitutional stone, has gone from being universally accepted to universally reviled ... because Mitch McConnell says so?

Chances are, the Democratic majority won't take these calls for hearings especially seriously, but if there's a Republican majority in the next Congress, it seems quite likely that questioning the 14th Amendment will be fairly high on the GOP to-do list.

If I had to guess, I'd say this is political posturing taken to an extreme level. In times of economic anxiety, the right historically exploits public fears and attacks immigrants, making this constitutional push offensive, but at least somewhat consistent with conservative history.

But to dismiss this effort to appeal to right-wing voters as routine and unimportant would be a mistake. We're talking about a major political party, perhaps even a soon-to-be congressional majority, rejecting the tenets of the 14th Amendment for crying out loud. And not just some obscure back-benchers or powerless state legislators -- this is becoming the GOP mainstream position thanks to the support of the most powerful figures in Republican politics.

Just when it seemed as if the Republican Party couldn't possibly become more irresponsible, more detached from a sensible mainstream, more beholden to demagogues and fanatics, the GOP kicks things up a notch. Whether they're rewarded for their extremism will be clear in 13 weeks.

Steve Benen 9:25 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (58)

Bookmark and Share

This is the same template as the flag-burning amendments canard. They know the change won't pass, they know it would be stupid. It pleases their base, and helps them raise money. It's Potemkin policy. And ideally, they will get Democrats on the record saying that they're in favor of immigrants. ooooooo-oooh. booga booga, look, brown people!

Posted by: Rathskeller on August 3, 2010 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder how Bobby Jindal feels about this re-defining the 14th Amendment to exclude "anchor babies." His mother was four months pregnant with him when she arrived from India.

But then, perhaps being Indian makes him the right kind of brown.

Posted by: Mustang Bobby on August 3, 2010 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

Some right wing pundits were saying decades ago that they didn't think any amendments since the Bill of Rights were proper or necessary. In the Reagan/Bush I era, when feminist-bashing was an accepted mainstream opinion, it was quite respectable to imply that blacks and women should never have gotten the right to vote. It's amazing what you can rationalize as devotion to the principles of the Founding Fathers.

Posted by: T-Rex on August 3, 2010 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

If the USA was a resort community, I'd be looking to move out because the other tenants are acting like f***ing lunatics.

Conservative Limbo (and I don't mean Rush):
How LOW can you GO?

Posted by: c u n d gulag on August 3, 2010 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

yep... let's keep Them thar immigrants from coming here and if they come not let em breed, Then we can become one giant inbred country - just like the Repiblican party.

forced sterilization for immigrants!!!!

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on August 3, 2010 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

Rathskeller pretty much explains the GOP of the last quarter century.

Divide and Conquer, with whatever topic is useful at the moment.

Posted by: DAY on August 3, 2010 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

They are so ridiculously embarassing. Its like ever 2 years they bring up a new way to redefine immigration so that they appeal to the better days when honestly the good ole boys controlled everything. They dont mind outing CIA agents, Torturing epw's, politicizing the justice department, illegaly invading a country, domestic spying and warrantless wire taping, having the supreme court decide the fate of election, but the NBPP, ACORN, 14th Ammendment, speaking to a catholic college, or speaking to public school kids are all invasions of the federal government. Its like they need to spark a new culture war because gays and abortion have run its course.

Posted by: allamr18 on August 3, 2010 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

Let's see now.... a constitutional amendment would require 2/3 of both chambers of congress AND be ratified by 3/4 of the states.

Good luck with that.g

Posted by: getaclue on August 3, 2010 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

Senator McConnell - there is no "clearly need to look at" about this farce.

Posted by: ET on August 3, 2010 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

Exactly, the Republicans think that they're running a Home Owner's Association instead of a Federal Government. With any luck, this will drive away any immigrant voters they might still have completely brainwashed. I can't wait till we're a completely temporary xenophobic police state for votes, then the same old bullshit after the election!

Posted by: Trollop on August 3, 2010 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

This move to repeal the 14th amendment seems to be a nod to 'birthers' also, implying that our current elected President is 'illegitimate.' Anti-immigrant activism is thinly veiled racism. Sure there's a problem with having millions of undocumented workers and residents entering a country, any country, and it's not an easy problem to solve. But anti-immigrant ranting at a local town hall 3 years ago was my first exposure to the "Tea Partiers", aka far-right Republicans.

Posted by: nancycadet on August 3, 2010 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

I hope that if this "change 14th amendment" proposal goes anywhere, people will take a long, hard look at what it will mean for people. Imagine how many "true" native-born people are going to have trouble meeting whatever requirements a new citizenship system imposes! Imagine- to register to vote or get a passport or whatever, you would probbably need to show not only your documents, but your parents' documents. Supporters of this measure should do a little experiment- figure out how long it takes you to obtain your parents' birth certificates or passports or properly stamped visas showing that they were in the country legitimately when you were born. And then make sure that whatever documents you have are considered acceptable by whatever authority will be set up to adjudicate this.
A huge burden to the public, all to prevent a few "anchor babies."

Posted by: acorn on August 3, 2010 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

I think the liberals have been handed a gun pointed at their own feet, and they will now proceed to pull the trigger.

Nobody can honestly defend granting citizenship to the children of illegal visitors, many of whom deliberately entered illegally for the very purpose of obtaining citizenship for their unborn child.

The amendment was designed to prevent states from denying citizenship rights to former slaves and their children. Post-Grant Administration, it was a total failure in that regard. I don't see the problem with supporting a minor tweak that doesn't do violence to the original, failed purpose.

Posted by: 6079smithW on August 3, 2010 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

Can someone please tell me just exactly how many babies are born each year to people in this country that are here illegally?

Posted by: Gandalf on August 3, 2010 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

If I had to guess, I'd say this is political posturing taken to an extreme level.

I'd say this is far more than political postering, though that definitively plays into it as well. The GOP is about to alienate Hispanics in the US with some more initiatives like the Arizona SB 1070 law. The political calculation is that this will help them in the short-term by mobilizing xenophobic reactions. Which is a cynical calculation, but given the current economic climate not necessarily a stupid one.

Long-term it is of course not really that smart to systematically alienate the fastest growing segment of the electorate. To mitigate that downside, it is therefore imperative for the GOP's to do whatever it can to keep that segment as small as possible. Which means, no path to citizenship for illegal aliens in any immigration reform, and, if possible, repealing the 14th amendment.

Posted by: eserwe on August 3, 2010 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe the GOP wants to limit the number of new citizens because they fear the growth of the number of minority voters. With the U.S. soon becoming a majority minority country the GOP will soon become small regional political party.

Posted by: swimmer on August 3, 2010 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

I'm just hoping that in their absurd attempts to rewrite/amend the 14th they reveal their own stupidity-- resulting in a proposed amendment where no one born in the US is a citizen. (Sort of like when Texas tried to ban same-sex marriage or "anything like or the same as marriage," which accidently resulted in their banning of all marriage altogether.)

Posted by: zoe kentucky on August 3, 2010 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

How does it benefit undocumented workers to have babies here? so their children are citizens but they are still being targeted by a ridiculous immigration policy and conservatives who think they are the ruin of the american society. How is working 12 hours a day for 4 dollars an hour a reward?

Posted by: allamr18 on August 3, 2010 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

The Supreme Court has already ruled on the right of citizenship to people born in the US, regardless of immigration status, in U.S. vs. Wong Kim Ark

That case highlights our country's heritage of xenophobia and racism, because at the time, the U.S. did not allow immigrants of Chinese ancestry to become citizens for the simple reason that they were Chinese. Wong was born in the U.S. and the Supreme Court ruled that because of that he was a citizen.

If the right wants to bring back the modern-day equivalent of the Chinese Exclusion Act, they should be exposed for the racists they are.

Posted by: g on August 3, 2010 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah right. We all know they have no intention of ever attempting this. There may be one or two who may try but it will fail and they know it. It's no different than the Roe v. Wade nonsense they've been saying for the past 2 decades.

Posted by: mmw on August 3, 2010 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

The Constitution is Holy Writ in this country.
Except when Mitch McConnell says it's not.

Posted by: Decatur Dem on August 3, 2010 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

Well, 6079smithW, as long as we're making "minor tweaks" to amendments, let's take a look at the 2nd. Certainly the Founding Fathers had no idea that we'd come up with assault rifles that can shoot 30 rounds a second or bullets that can pierce tank armor.

So, fair trade: you tweak the 14th, we'll tweak the 2nd. Sounds fair.

Posted by: Mustang Bobby on August 3, 2010 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

When a WASP matron gushed to Will Rogers "My ancestors arrived on the Mayflower!", Will drawled “My ancestors didn't come over on the Mayflower, but they were there to meet the boat.”

Mitch and all the Tea Baggers are are birthright citizens and anchor children of illegal immigrants.

The "illegals" they revile, on the other hand, are substantially descendants of populations native to the Americas. The "browner", the more likely to be native.

Posted by: OKDem on August 3, 2010 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Yet another son of the Confederacy posturing about who has the right to be a citizen of the United States. Was McConnell's grandfather a citizen of the USA, or the CSA? If we're repealing the 14th Amendment, I think we ought to "take a look at" retroactively removing the citizenship of those who took arms against our country. And of course their 'anchor baby' descendants. My ancestors were sensible enough to stay loyal to the Union, why weren't his? If we're going to start getting picky about birthrights, I demand that the descendants of Confederates have less than I do.

Meanwhile, can we get some actual numbers on this "anchor baby" business? Is this a real problem, or is this a 'anchor babies driving their Cadillacs to the liquor store to buy vodka with foodstamps' kind of deal?

Posted by: biggerbox on August 3, 2010 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

I mean, be fair. Even after the Arizona law, there probably were still a few Hispanics who might have been sympathetic to the Republican party. Can't have that.

Posted by: Basilisc on August 3, 2010 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

In fact, if I were Reid or Pelosi, I'd encourage bringing a resolution to the floor about this. Do the California or Texas Republicans in Congress really want to tell their fastest growing constituency that we think too many members of their community are becoming citizens? Would be great to watch the squirming ...

Posted by: Basilisc on August 3, 2010 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

Can someone please tell me just exactly how many babies are born each year to people in this country that are here illegally?
Posted by: Gandalf

Millions. Absolutely millions.

BTW, it wasn't that long ago that many Republicans were talking out loud about changing the citizenship requirement for President. They thought at the time that naturalized citizens like Arnold Schwarzenegger deserved a chance to run for President. Times and polls change.

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on August 3, 2010 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

"If I had to guess, I'd say this is political posturing taken to an extreme level."

Sure, but as the right gets more frothier at the mouth, they're going to start expecting promises to be kept. I mean, I KNOW, I KNOW, the Tea Party is chock full to the brim with disenfranchised voters from both parties who think they've been taxed enough already. But I can't help but thinking maybe, juuuust maybe, a good chunk of that tea party consists of disenfranchised Republicans who've gotten sick of their party giving them lip service when it comes to stuff like overturning Roe v. Wade and immigration reform and making Christianity the recognized official religion and everything else that legitimizes their sense of superiority, and they're looking for candidates that will walk the walk and talk the talk when it comes to "taking their country back," presumably from us godless homoloving heathens who are Americans in name only.

Posted by: slappy magoo on August 3, 2010 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

This is nothing more than the latest incarnation of the Southern Strategy. Changing the 14th Amendment admits that it was incorrect, implicitly criticizing the Union and vindicating that glorious political enterprise the Confederacy.

It amazes me that we are still fighting that war and no one else seems to think it odd.

Posted by: Bernard Gilroy on August 3, 2010 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

I think that we may underestimate the appeal of this kind of thing to people. If you try to tell someone who thinks this is a good idea that it's anti-immigrant, they'll say, no, it's anti-illegal immigrant. And they'll say it should apply no matter what race the person is, so it can't be considered racist. I think the only possible way to make them think would be to counter with facts. How many children are born in the US to illegals each year? How many parents of these children subsequently get legal status? Is this number rising or falling? In short, is there really a problem to be addressed here? You aren't ever going to convince Tom Tancreado with facts, but you stand a better chance of convincing your neighbor with facts than you do if you call him racist.

Posted by: Johio on August 3, 2010 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

I guess they would like to move to something more like the French or German nationality laws ... yeah, right after we adopt the Euro!

Posted by: eho on August 3, 2010 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

How many Amendments is this now they're trying to overturn?

Between trying to repeal long established precedents and blithely interpreting Amendments to mean the opposite of what they plainly mean, it's like conservative are against every part of the Constitution.

Posted by: cld on August 3, 2010 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

"Everyone is uncomfortable with birthright citizenship? ... because Mitch McConnell says so?"

Steve seems surprised by this tactic but really it's a very effective Republican move that they use in many areas. They are still saying "everyone" is against the Health Care Act, and "everyone" thinks the administration didn't do anything effective against the recession and so on. This tactic works because many of those listening to these comments have no idea what their fellow citizens think and since there is a tendency to adopt the ideas that seem most prevalent, people begin to believe and agree.

I don't understand why democrats/progressives aren't using this technique more often. Go ahead: be like Eric Cantor and boldly proclaim "everyone knows X" or like Sarah Palin, "it's only common sense, we all believe Y".....

Posted by: elisabeth on August 3, 2010 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Actually I think hearing on the 14th Amendment may be a good idea.

Particularly in regard the second sentence,

"No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. "

Posted by: cld on August 3, 2010 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

What would the "tweak" be? If being born in a country is no longer a basis for citizenship, what would the basis be? Would it be the parent's citizenship? The grandparent's? How many generations back do we go? Would a geneology be required for each child? Would a person not be considered a citizen until he/she registers to vote?

If the woman wasn't a citizen, but a legal resident, would she be allowed to continue the pregnancy or be required to have an abortion? What if the mother is a citizen, but the father is not? What if the father is a citizen, but the mother is not? What if a mother who is a noncitizen legal resident is married to a man who is a citizen but has an affair with an illegal immigrant and becomes pregnant but tries to pass off the pregnancy as being by her husband, meaning that neither the mother nor the father are citizens, although it appears that the father is?

Which federal agency would be in charge of newborn citizenship verification? Health and Human Services or Homeland Security?

Ooooh. Gave myself a headache.

Posted by: jpeckjr on August 3, 2010 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

The smartest thing the Dems could do is to redball it to the front of the queue and get people on the record, and their votes on file.

It won't pass, and Mitch knows it. But he knows that talking about it will pander to that fading demographic of senile nativists that might give his party an edge in a close election.

But just talk won't activate an otherwise socially conservative growing demographic of politically active Hispanics and sympathetic anti-nativists. A recorded vote might. Nativist rhetoric will sound great in November--great for Dems.

(Sad sign of the times--I had to override Spellchecker and add "nativist" to the dictionary.)

Posted by: Steve Paradis on August 3, 2010 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

Um, I'm a birthright citizen and so are most of the people reading this, most of the people in the United States.

Posted by: Tom Parmenter on August 3, 2010 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Look, I would like to get rid of the 2nd amendment. I assume a lot of people reading this don't like the idea that the Supreme Court has changed the 200+ year understanding of what the 2nd amendment means.

England changed the rules on citizenship in the 1980's. The society didn't collapse.

We could easily change the 14th amendment to make citizenship be based on at least one parent being a US citizen and/or the person being born here to a mother and/or father having a valid visa.

It isn't that big a deal.

There is an excellent chance that the public will agree with McConnell's position. It might make a lot of sense to get a reasonable compromise rather than end up with an even more restrictive change.

Posted by: neil wilson on August 3, 2010 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Whether they're rewarded for their extremism will be clear in 13 weeks. - SB

Elections are coming up, throw stuff in the air!

Posted by: Kevin (not the famous one) on August 3, 2010 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK
It amazes me that we are still fighting [the Civil War] and no one else seems to think it odd.

In Missouri, there's a ballot measure that basically says:

"We can ignore the federal government any time we want because--what's that? Civil War? What Civil War? We can ignore the feds because SHUT UP THAT'S WHY!"

So ... after 8 years of being told any criticism of the President and his policies are treasonous terrorist-helping by traitorous unAmericans, it's suddenly totes cool to not only blast the President with anything and everything, including racism, but to also hate your own federal government so much that you act as if 150 years of law and legal precedent don't exist.

This is no longer about politics, folks. It's about a disgusting and dangerous psychosis infesting the GOP ...

Posted by: Mark D on August 3, 2010 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

I understand people's concern, but can we please stop saying it would "repeal" the 14th Amendment? There's a lot more to the 14th Amendment than birthright citizenship -- the Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process Clause are completely independent, and the EP applies to citizens and immigrants alike.

Posted by: wildone on August 3, 2010 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

what Johio and neil wilson said ...

unless you can beef-up the "numbers show that this isn't a problem" angle, cuz people also get the "ain't broke don't fix it" thing.

Posted by: 6079smithW on August 3, 2010 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK


This still does not answer the question: what if someone is born here in the states to parents who were "illegal" at the time of his/her birth and who later became naturalized? And this person, born in the States, speaks English, has never known another country, decides to exercise the right to vote. What then? Would you deport this person back to the country of origin of the parents? And supposing that the parents come from different countries. To which country would you deport this person living in the U.S. since his/her birth?

And as others have asked, how far back do you go? Will we all be required to carry our parents' birth certificates with us when we go to vote? Or naturalization papers? And since most of us don't currently have our parents' birth certs handy, how easy will it be to get them from their counties of birth?

I could think of other problems as well. I just think that this is another case of Republicans searching for a draconian solution to a problem of very small magnitude. Moreover, any woman who has ever been pregnant, and any man who has stood by his woman at that time, knows that you don't travel willy-nilly across some border to "drop" a child. Travelling is very difficult for heavily-pregnant women.

Posted by: Wolfdaughter on August 3, 2010 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Let's read the second sentence of the 14th Amendment again,

"No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. "

See that last bit?

". . .nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. "

That's 'person'. Not 'citizens'.

Posted by: cld on August 3, 2010 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

nancycadet: This move to repeal the 14th amendment seems to be a nod to 'birthers' also, implying that our current elected President is 'illegitimate.'

You do realize that Obama's mother was a US citizen, right?

Posted by: cr on August 3, 2010 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

I don't like the pandering that's obviously behind this. And I don't like the fact that McConnell and the Republican Party are trying to divert everyone's attention to a lesser problem in order to hope people don't realize the party is barren of any meaningful or realistic approach to governing.

However, I've got to say that I think 6079smithW may be right. What's so sacred about birthright citizenship at this point in the history of this country? it clearly stands in the way of any sort of rational approach to immigration, which has for decades been based on quotas and limis as to who can be admitted to the country. If we're going to impose limits on legal immigration, it really doesn't make sense to allow an unregulated path to citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants. Is there any other country that grants citizenship this way?

I'm curious as to how big an issue this is. Does anyone have any real information as to how many children are born in this country to illegal immigrants? "Millions and millions" doesn't sound like an informed answer.

Posted by: DRF on August 3, 2010 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the thing...there are plenty of independents and Democrats who wouldn't mind seeing the 14th Amendment altered either, although they probably won't say so out loud. Anybody who thinks that the anger against illegal immigrant babies is just a GOP issue isn't paying too much attention.

For example, I don't think too many people, Democrats or Republicans, would object to a requirement that the mother be a legal resident of the USA at the time of birth for the baby to be granted automatic citizenship.

Posted by: mfw13 on August 3, 2010 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

so, the gop is saying that the constitution is an imperfect document after all. what a shock.

Posted by: me on August 3, 2010 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

I don't trust the GOP's motives, but seriously - after all this time since the Civil War and slavery (the essential need for such a clause) do we really need to keep saying, a baby born within our boundaries is ipso facto "a US citizen." Really? Babies born to visiting tourists too? Why? I say, no, and it's childish to feel a reflexive need to always disagree with "the other."

Posted by: neil b on August 3, 2010 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

I have a daughter who was born in Singapore. She is not automatically a Singaporean citizen because she happened to be born there. We took the documentation from the hospital to the U.S. consulate to register her birth as a U.S. citizen born abroad. This is how it works around the world. I don't know of any other country with the same policy as America. It seems that the left is clinging to an abstract, ideal concept of the 14th amendment while the right is narrowly focusing on the common sense idea, shared by every other country in the world, that citizenship actually means something and is not granted lightly. The right will win this argument if the debate can be kept to this narrow, common sense point, while deflecting the accusations of racism from the left.

Posted by: bobopapal on August 3, 2010 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with neil, mfw and DRF. Citizenship because of birthright is an antiquated idea. And I know many Dems/Libs/etc that feel the same.
The mother must be a citizen for the baby to be a citizen. period.

And to answer the question posed earlier...if the mother was not a citizen when the baby was born and then the mother becomes naturalized, the baby is not a citizen until he/she/it can become naturalized. And we can add a clause that if the child is under a certain age, say...5, then the parent can have the toddler naturalized when the parent becomes naturalized. Otherwise, everyone goes through the same naturalization process.

Posted by: Gridlock on August 3, 2010 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Seems to be a lot of "I got mine, screw you" attitude in these parts. Probably a majority of those writing here are the progeny of immigrants who came to the US after the 14th amendment was added.

I guess the amendment has become just recently "antiquated."

Posted by: cr on August 3, 2010 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know what the right answer is about who becomes a US citizen and when.

Should it be based on where you were born? Maybe but most other countries don't do it that way.

Should it be based on whether your mother was here legally? Maybe, I don't know any other country who does it that way.

Should it be based on the citizenship of your parents? Maybe. Most of the world does it this way.

I think any of those solutions are reasonable and I bet there are a lot more reasonable answers.

We shouldn't mess with the Constitution just because we feel like it but changing part of the 14th amendment isn't the worst thing in the world.

If you want to get rid of illegal immigration then start fining EMPLOYERS. If they don't hire the workers then there is no reason for the people to be here.

Posted by: neil wilson on August 3, 2010 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

Most American citizens are citizens because of the 14th amendment -- we were born here and our birth certificate is our proof of citizenship. If we throw out that clause, then we need to do this retroactively. So, if you were born here, you need proof that your parents entered the US legally. Oh, they were born here too? Then you need proof that your grandparents entered the US legally. Rinse and repeat.

If you can't show proof that your ancestors entered the US legally, then you are an illegal and should be deported now. The fact is that unless your ancestors passed through Ellis Island or came here since the quota system started in the 1920s, you will have a hard time proving that your ancestors came here legally.

Posted by: rickterp on August 3, 2010 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

If we throw out that clause, then we need to do this retroactively.

What absurd BS.

If we throw out that clause then people born after a set date will not get automatic citizenship based on being born here.

Posted by: neil wilson on August 3, 2010 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

I guess the amendment has become just recently "antiquated." cr

Just as the 2nd amendment referring to a "well-armed militia" is antiquated and should be changed.

Just as Prohibition was antiquated, not to mention non-sensical, as soon as it was enacted and was changed.

If I recall correctly, the founding fathers put in provisions to change the Constitution when the citizenry saw fit. Just because an amendment is there doesn't mean that it can't be fixed.

Posted by: Gridlock on August 3, 2010 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

The mother must be a citizen for the baby to be a citizen. period. -- Gridlock, @14:28

My husband is Virginia born-and-bred, several generations back. I was born and raised in Poland. A while after we married, I became a legal alien. But I didn't even apply for American citizenship till our son was 6yrs old (and didn't get it until he was 8 -- usual backlog). If you had your way, my son, in order to become an American citizen, would have had to go through the same application/vetting process that I did.

As things are, because of differences in law (Poland grants citizenship on the basis of the parents' citizenship and one parent is enough to provide that protection), he was an American citizen, automatically, because of the place of birth. At 18, he had the option to choose citizenship -- either his mother's or his father's. For that matter, even though he's now 33, I think he could still apply for Polish citizenship if he wanted to; I have never renounced mine and have double citizenship now.

Posted by: exlibra on August 3, 2010 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

gridlock: Just as the 2nd amendment referring to a "well-armed militia" is antiquated and should be changed. Just as Prohibition was antiquated, not to mention non-sensical, as soon as it was enacted and was changed.

Bad analogies. The need for a "well-armed militia" is not antiquated, unless you think we should get rid of the military reserves; that's what the militia is called today. The problem with the 2nd Amendment is that it's been interpreted wrongly to mean that everyone gets to have a gun as a plaything; that's not what it says. The prohibition against alcohol wasn't "antiquated," it just was a stupid mistake.

My point was that if you're going to argue repeal of that the birthright citizenship clause of the 14th amendment because it's "antiquated", then it became antiquated many, many years ago and consistency would demand that you also argue to strip many others of their previously-acquired birthright citizenship.

I suggest that that "antiquated" argument is simply a thin veil covering some pretty obvious ethnic cleansing mentality aimed at a growing US Hispanic population.

Posted by: cr on August 3, 2010 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK



Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM

buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly