Tag Archives: citizenship

A Toughtful Look at Birth Rights


If you head on over to the National Constitution Center there is an excellent discussion of Birth Rights by Linda Monk. This isn’t a quick sound bite. This is the whole enchilada.

Immigration Numbers:

• For the first time in two decades, the total number of illegal immigrants has dropped significantly, from a high of 12 million in 2007 to 11.1 million in 2009.
• The average annual number of new illegal immigrants fell dramatically, from 850,000 in March 2005 to 300,000 in March 2009.
• Mexico remains the primary source of illegal immigration, with 60 percent; other Latin American nations represent 20 percent; and South and East Asia have 11 percent

Immigration wasn’t always illegal

For much of U.S. history, there were no legal limits on immigration, although rules for naturalization varied. During the colonial era, the English colonies in North America took land from Native Americans by both treaty and conquest, and then sought to attract other European immigrants as settlers. The colonial charters of Virginia and Maryland, for example, allowed government officials to admit and give property rights to “strangers and aliens.” In some colonies, governors and legislators naturalized entire groups of settlers by statute. In 1740 Parliament passed a law that enabled aliens who had lived in the colonies for seven years to become English subjects–if they were not Catholics.

The 14th amendment:

The Constitution “was widely read in the antebellum era as making national citizenship derivative of state citizenship, except in cases
involving the naturalization of immigrants and the regulation of federal territories.” The Fourteenth Amendment nationalized the
definition of citizenship, rather than relying on the states, and it made state citizenship automatic upon residence in that state. Under
the Fourteenth Amendment, all persons “born or naturalized” in the United States and “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” are citizens of both the state in which they reside and the United States. Ratified in 1868, the Fourteenth Amendment was intended to overturn the Dred Scott ruling and protect former slaves, who were not recognized as citizens by Southern states even after the Civil War and emancipation.

Please read the whole piece. It is wonderful, informative and thoughtful.

Dred Scott and Donald Trump

Have you read Donald Trump’s immigration paper? Really?

From TP:

On Sunday, Trump released a series of immigration proposals, one of which seeks to restore a similar vision of citizenship to the one embraced by the Supreme Court in its infamous Dred Scott decision. Trump calls for the United States to “[e]nd birthright citizenship,” which he labels “the biggest magnet for illegal immigration.” In Trump’s vision, the children of a disfavored class will once again carry tainted blood that disqualifies them from citizenship, even if his new target is the children of undocumented immigrants and not the descendants of men and women brought to this country in chains.

Black men and women “had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect,” according to the most infamous decision ever handed down by the Supreme Court of the United States. The core of the Court’s reasoning in Dred Scott was the notion that citizenship was a kind of hereditary inheritance, passed down from the kind of people “who were citizens of the several States when the Constitution was adopted” to their children. Black slaves and their descendants were, thus, disqualified by their own blood from enjoying the rights of citizenship.

Birthright citizenship, the principle that infants born on U.S. soil automatically become citizens regardless of ancestry, was written into the Constitution as an explicit repudiation of Dred Scott. “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof,” the Fourteenth Amendment begins, “are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.” (more…)

Immigration reform – DOA

Do you remember all the hoopla over the immigration bill getting to the Senate? This happened less than a month ago. The mainstream media went crazy. There was a lot of discussion about how many Republicans voted for the final bill. Would the final bill have only one or two Republicans to support it or would they have more like 10-15 Republicans? The number of Republicans who supported the bill somehow would have a huge influence on the House. As I recall, I really didn’t make much mention of this bill for a reason. I thought it was going to die in the House. As it turns out, I was right. Immigration reform is dead.

The House Republicans simply have little or no interest in immigration reform. Their position on immigration has been crystal clear. Send all illegal immigrants home. That’s it. There’s no further discussion. Sure, they probably want to build an electrified fence along our southern border. They’ll even go for electronic surveillance systems along our southern border. They may even go for increasing the number of border security personnel along our southern border, but as far as figuring out a path to citizenship is concerned, that is simply a nonstarter. You can poke. You can prod. You can jump up and down. You can present charts and graphs about the benefits of making millions of these economic refugees into real, honest-to-goodness American citizens, but they don’t care.

From my standpoint, the benefits of immigration reform are clear. First of all, I don’t believe that in the United States we should have two or three different classes of citizens. If you are here, you need to be here legally. Making immigrants pay a reasonable fine for breaking the law and then giving them a reasonable path to citizenship simply makes sense. It is fair. I also believe that we should work to close the border. When I say the border, I’m not just talking about our southern border. I’m talking about all of our borders. We have hundreds of thousands of miles that are simply unguarded. If you want to walk across the border with Canada, it is very easy in multiple places. If you want to come to the United States via boat, that is also easy in a number of places. Close the borders.

Let’s be clear. None of this is going to happen. There are powerful forces on both sides of this issue which create the stalemate. From a political standpoint, Republicans have to make a decision. They can either have pain now or they can have pain later. There is going to be some pain. If they pass some sort of immigration reform now, a large number of those immigrants will become Democrats. This will cause short-term pain at the polls. If they continue to resist immigration reform, as I suspect they will, they will have a lot of pain later as immigration reform will get passed at some point as this population of “new Americans” go to the polls and will invariably vote Democratic. Currently, this crop of Republicans have decided that they’re going to postpone the pain for as long as they can. I wish them luck with that strategy.