Born in the U.S.A.

The misguided movement to strip birthright citizenship from the Constitution

On March 27, 1866, President Andrew Johnson sent a message to Congress vetoing the landmark civil rights bill it had just passed. Among the provisions “which I cannot approve,” Johnson wrote, was the first section, which stated, “All persons born in the United States, and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed, are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States.”

Not only would this grant of birthright citizenship make citizens out of “the entire race designated as blacks,” Johnson complained, it would also make citizens out of “the Chinese of the Pacific States, Indians subject to taxation, [and] the people called Gipsies.” He wouldn’t sign it.

So the Radical Republicans of the 39th Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866 over the president’s veto. As Sen. Lyman Trumbull (R-Ill.) declared from the Senate floor, “the child of an Asiatic is just as much a citizen as the child of a European.” Several months later, those same Republicans introduced legislation that became the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which, among other things, declared, “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.” Upon ratification in 1868, the 14th Amendment’s Citizenship Clause specifically overturned the Supreme Court’s notorious 1857 decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford, which held that persons of African descent could never be U.S. citizens. It was a magnificent achievement for the young Republican Party.

Today, birthright citizenship is again under fire, only this time the attacks are coming primarily from the party that first put the guarantee into place. "We're the only, or one of the few, developed nations in the world that allows somebody to come here illegally, give birth to a child, and then have the child be a legal citizen of our country," Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota recently complained, perhaps forgetting that Republicans typically oppose efforts to make the U.S. look more like other parts of the world.

And he’s not alone. Last weekend, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) told NBC’s Meet the Press that overhauling the 14th Amendment is “worth considering.” It offers an "incentive for illegal immigrants to come here so their children can be U.S. citizens,” Boehner claimed. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said much the same. “I think we ought to take a look at it—hold hearings, listen to the experts on it,” McConnell told The Hill.

Or McConnell could just take the Constitution at its word. After all, as Sen. Trumbull’s comments and President Johnson’s veto message suggest, the original public meaning of the Citizenship Clause, just like its nearly identical counterpart in the Civil Rights Act, included birthright citizenship. As Sen. John Conness (R-Calif.) declared during the congressional debates on the 14th Amendment, “We are entirely ready to accept the provision proposed in this constitutional amendment, that the children born here of Mongolian parents shall be declared by the Constitution of the United States to be entitled to civil rights and to equal protection before the law.” Both the supporters and the opponents of the amendment understood it this way. They only disagreed about whether birthright citizenship was a good idea. The Supreme Court then gave its stamp of approval to this understanding in United States v. Wong Kim Ark (1898). So if the GOP wants to nullify the Citizenship Clause, it’ll take a constitutional amendment to do it.

But more importantly, there’s not much evidence that birthright citizenship has anything to do with today’s immigration problems. As Jason L. Riley, a Wall Street Journal editorial board member and author of Let Them In: The Case for Open Borders, points out, immigrants overwhelmingly come to America seeking jobs, not government benefits. “Some 400,000 people enter the country illegally each year,” Riley notes, “a direct consequence of the fact that our current policy is to make available only 5,000 visas annually for low-skilled workers.” Illegal immigration, in other words, “is primarily a function of too many foreigners chasing too few visas.” (For a sobering illustration of that futile chase, see Reason’s “What Part of Legal Immigration Don’t You Understand?”)

Those immigrants aren’t coming here to have babies and they aren’t coming here to abuse social services. As Riley told Reason.tv, immigrants “use welfare at lower rates than natives. I should also add that if your concern is that some immigrants are receiving more in public benefits than they pay in taxes, you should keep in mind that so do 67 percent of Americans.” According to the Pew Hispanic Research Center, based on its study of the 2004 Census, the labor force participation rate for illegal immigrant males (ages 18 to 64) was 92 percent, compared to a rate of just 83 percent for native-born males.

So not only does the Republican push to abolish birthright citizenship require disfiguring the 14th Amendment, one of the party’s greatest political achievements, it isn’t likely to have any discernible impact on the number of illegal immigrants entering the country, since the majority of them are here seeking jobs—something they will continue to do as long as there are employers willing to pay. That’s how supply and demand works.

This whole Citizenship Clause controversy is ultimately just election year posturing designed to excite a few voters. The text of the Constitution deserves more respect than that.

Damon W. Root is an associate editor at Reason magazine.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • The Republican Party||

    We're in favor of civil rights. Just not for un-civil people.

    Oh, and you tea bag people? Don't get any crazy ideas. After 2012, you're out.

  • American Tea Bagger||

    Republi-Douche Establishmentarians

    2010 is your last chance to begin rolling back government.

    If you don't succeed this time we will activate our 2nd amendment remedies.

    After the revolution you will be hanging from your balls next to your socialist friends.

    Heed the warning!

  • Beelzebud||

    I wonder why people think teabaggers are group of nutbag agitators of violence...

  • ||

    "But more importantly, there’s not much evidence that birthright citizenship has anything to do with today’s immigration problems. As Jason C. Riley, a Wall Street Journal editorial board member and author of Let Them In: The Case for Open Borders, points out, immigrants overwhelmingly come to America seeking jobs, not government benefits. “Some 400,000 people enter the country illegally each year,” Riley notes, “a direct consequence of the fact that our current policy is to make available only 5,000 visas annually for low-skilled workers.” Illegal immigration, in other words, “is primarily a function of too many foreigners chasing too few visas.”

    It just says that we provide fewer visas than are demanded. That figure says nothing about why people want to come here one way or another. You could just as easily cite that number in support of the proposition that immigrants come here for welfare.

    Come on guys. You have to make better arguments than that. And how the hell can a constitutional amendment "run afoul of the constitution"? And who really cares that the people who passed the 14th Amendment thought birthright citizenship was a good idea? Isn't that just question begging?

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: John,

    You could just as easily cite that number in support of the proposition that immigrants come here for welfare.

    And they certainly stand near the Home Depots, under the sun, for the welfare . . .

    Right???

  • BeltwayLurker||

    Hot sun. Nice touch.

  • Chris||

    Exactly.

    Here in Austin, TX, one sees many fine, proud Americans panhandling at highway intersections.

    By way of contrast, one sees many fine, proud Mexicans (may be citizens of Mexican descent, can't tell by looking) working their ever-loving *asses* off building houses, landscaping, etc.

    I'll take the latter over the former any day of the week.

  • BeltwayLurker||

    What State are these parents and their anchor babies residents of? That is part of the qualification in the 14th also.

  • Some Guy||

    No, it's not.

  • A is Awesome||

    I like that overturning the Birthright Citizenship Clause would take a Constitutional Amendment. It forces the Republicans to either call for an Amendment, or use the same illegitimate methods everyone has been using for quite sometime. They could lose a few votes over this if they don't call for an Amendment, and lose a few votes if they drop this arguement all together.

    Either way, I hate the Republican party right now.

  • BeltwayLurker||

    Not required of you are reading the whole thing.

  • Some Guy||

    It is required if you read the whole thing and speak English past a 3rd grade level.

  • ||

    THis is retarded. Immigrants are what make this country what it is. We should increase the amount of visas and try to entice skilled workers along with unskilled workers. Every great age of innovation has been preceded by an age of immigration. The problems the border is experiencing is a result of people illegally coming here. If it was easier to come in the human smuggling routes would cease to exist. The problems aren't a result of them being in the country, they are a result of tha activities getting them here.

  • JohnD||

    Well A, I have it on good authority that they aren't too fond of you either.

  • ||

    a very poor argument in favor of birthright citizenship

  • G Mc||

    Why? It covered the legal foundation and practical impact of birthright citizenship and pointed out the most relevant part of this "controversy," that it's really just a political move by Republicans to stir up their base before the elections.

  • BeltwayLurker||

    That "base" you are talking about is full of Dem and Rep voters who killed Bush amnesty twice and have not changed their minds since.

  • G Mc||

    Ha, yes you're right, the Republicans are trying to rile up those Democrats before the election. Please

  • BeltwayLurker||

    We must be talking about different Dems. I am talking of those who are fleeing Obama for this and similar reasons.

  • G Mc||

    The Dems who vote for Republicans because of racial animus are not the Dems fleeing Obama now

  • Leroy||

    You don't want people breaking the law to enter the country?

    RAAAAACCCCIIIISSSSSTTTTTT!

  • G Mc||

    Why? It covered the legal foundation and practical impact of birthright citizenship and pointed out the most relevant part of this "controversy," that it's really just a political move by Republicans to stir up their base before the elections.

  • ||

    "Pew Hispanic Research Center, based on its study of the 2004 Census, the labor force participation rate for illegal immigrant males (ages 18 to 64) was 92 percent, compared to a rate of just 83 percent for native-born males."

    It would make sense that a population that is generally not eligible for educational aid and has fewer family ties, has a larger labor force participation rate. And further, illegals are not eligible for welfare or unemployment. So I would love to know what the hell that 8% is doing.
    And you can work and still use social services. Even if you have a job, you still have to go to the hospital or can get arrested for something.

    I am not sure what that statistic is supposed to prove. And we are not talking about male illegal immigrants. We are talking about all illegal immigrants. So why just put up a statistic talking about male ones? What about women? How does that skew things? Do they not count?

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: John,

    It would make sense that a population that is generally not eligible for educational aid and has fewer family ties, has a larger labor force participation rate. And further, illegals are not eligible for welfare or unemployment. So I would love to know what the hell that 8% is doing.

    They would be looking for employment.

    What about women? How does that skew things? Do they not count?

    Of course they do - they're there for nookie.

  • ||

    "if your concern is that some immigrants are receiving more in public benefits than they pay in taxes, you should keep in mind that so do 67 percent of Americans.”

    Okay, so that makes it a good thing to bring more people in who use more services than they pay for? And of that 67% a lot of them are old people and sick people who are unable to fend for themselves. How does bringing in more people who are a drain on the system help?

    How did this thing get past the editors? Forget the merits of the issue. This is just a sorry argument.

  • Zeb||

    One problem I have with the "they use social services" argument against immigrants is that I fail to see how a citizen who has never held a good job or payed any taxes should have any more rights to social services (or be considered less of a leach on society) than an immigrant in the same position, or even one who has a job and pays taxes.

  • ||

    So you don't think someone who get's paralyzed in an accident should get any government services? Or people who are born with birth defects?

  • Zeb||

    No. My objection is that the argument seems to be (from many people, maybe not you) that immigrants don't pay in to the system, so they shouldn't get services. The same argument could be made for many citizens and I don't see the moral difference between a citizen and a non-citizen in such circumstances that require services.

  • ||

    I do. The citizen has a right to be here. The illegal immigrant does not. But I believe in borders and nations.

  • ||

    +1

  • ||

    If the person is using Government services that are funded by my tax dollars, I don't care whether they're here "legally" or "illegally." Robbery is robbery, whether the plunder goes to a white American deadbeat or an illegal Mexican one.

    Now, we can argue the merits for Government assistance for people who are injured or handicapped or whatever--but if the argument in favor of keeping these services available and funded is based on some sort of "compassionate" grounds, that some people cannot take care of themselves and honestly need the Government's help, then, while I can see the anger at your tax money going to help an "illegal," what would you propose to do instead? Let him or her waste away and die? Is it morally acceptable to turn a blind eye to one's suffering simply because they don't possess the good fortune of being born here?

    For the record, I am generally not in favor of welfare for ANYONE, but if we're going to have it, as a taxpayer, where I take offense is the PRINCIPLE that it is the Government's job to provide these services at all, NOT that they provide them to people of different origins/citizenships/nationalities.

  • ||

    "while I can see the anger at your tax money going to help an "illegal," what would you propose to do instead? Let him or her waste away and die?"

    Go back to they're own country and either fix it or come here legaly.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Why? What's so great about the nation system?

  • ||

    It allows me and you to live in a wonderful free place. Take away the nation and where you live won't be so free or so great. If you don't believe me, go to the rest of the world and find out.

  • Sam Grove||

    For the most part, they simply are worse nations.

    Take away the nation and where you live won't be so free or so great.

    How do you know this?

  • Remaining Sucker||

    He's been to the rest of the world and found out!

  • ||

    without a nation there will be gangs, they will fight for control, once that is done there will be a nation again...

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    Not unlike political parties, unions, and special interests. At least violent gangs are honest about their intentions.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Oh, so you didn't really mean, "I believe in borders and nations." You meant you believe in the United States. Fair enough. That's not what you said.

  • ||

    Most guest workers here legally pay into Social Security and never collect a penny.

  • HMFIC||

    States and borders are in our minds. You can't touch a state or point to it. It's flags, patches, and ideas. An ontological commitment necessary to convince the poor to kill and die for the benefit of the rich.

  • ||

    Name me a system with a better record?

  • Mike Laursen||

    The record, huh? Shall we start with two major world wars?

  • Mike Laursen||

    Have more to say, but have to write later. Got to get the kids going...

  • ||

    Oh, that's okay, if your snarky comment is "Shall we start with two major world wars?", you've pretty much established that you really don't have anything to say.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Really, Azathoth. It might have been a bit snarky, since snark is what we excel at here in the Hit & Run comment section, but bringing up the two world wars surely has a core of seriousness to it, doesn't it?

  • ||

    could you expand on that?

  • ||

    Private charity only.

  • Hooha||

    This. Those 'government services' are provided by we the people. It's terribly sad that something so genuinely unfair would happen to somebody - but it's not some strangers responsibility to take care of them, and it's certainly not the responsibility of MILLIONS of strangers.

    I donate to charities for cancer research and other causes that assist those who were laid low through no poor decisions of their own, and as brutal as it may sound, that is all the aid that those individuals have any RIGHT to. They (or their families) should not be allowed to rob me because of their misfortune.

  • ||

    Very good.

  • HMFIC||

    Speaking of robbery, anyone on this forum willing to fess up to filing for bankruptcy? Can't complain about others not paying their bills if you don't pay your own.

  • Mo||

    A lot of the 67%? Less than 13% of Americans are over the age of 65 and about 10% are disabled. Assuming there's no overlap between the two groups, which strikes me as unlikely, that leaves 44% that don't have age or disability as their reason.

  • ||

    So what? They are Americans. It is America's business if we want to give people stuff. Second, you can not be disabled and still need help. If you are unemployed you would fall into that 67%. It is funny that Root makes the same mistake many liberals make in assuming that it is the same people receiving benefits year after year.

    Regardless, I don't care if 100% of Americans get more than they pay in. That doesn't make it any more of a good idea to bring in immigrants who will receive more than they pay in.

  • Mo||

    Except that illegal immigrants usually pay more into the system than they receive. They pay SS and Medicare, but are ineligible. According to the CEA, over their lifetime, the average immigrant pays $80K more than they receive in benefits.

    http://www.aclu.org/files/pdfs.....an2008.pdf

  • Mo||

    That should say "the average illegal immigrant pays $80K more than they receive in benefits."

  • ||

    maybe so. And if that is true, you just made the argument Root should have made. Instead he makes this lame ass one about how 67% of Americans get more than they receive.

    I was criticizing the argument more than the overall merits of immigration. Maybe you should apply for a job at Reason. You are doing a better job than Root.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Presuming they aren't paid in cash under the table, right?

  • Mo||

    I'm not sure how being paid under the table affects the average of the aggregate group of undocumented immigrants. It's already calculated in the average. If immigrants 1, 2, 3 and 4 pay $100K in lifetime taxes more than they receive in benefits and immigrant 5 pays $0 because he's paid under the table, the average for the group is still $80K.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    They know how many people are paid in cash under the table? What about immigrants 6-10 who they don't know about but get paid in cash only?

  • Mo||

    All you need to know is (a) how much in taxes was received by illegal immigrants, (b) how much in benefits they received and (c) how many there are. Then just take (a-b)/c. The income they received during the time is irrelevant.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    That's interesting. If we presume the usual 6.2% for SS and 1.45% for Medicare, in order to pay $80,000 in SS & Medicare, aren't we looking at a lifetime income of $1,045,751.63?

    Granted, I started happy hour a little early, but I don't think many illegal immigrants make that kind of money and they only put in $80,000 more than they use at that level if they use $0 in services.

    So, what part of that $80,000 number is SS & Medicare and what is from, presumably, other taxes? How does the study measure how much illegal aliens benefit from the sales tax they pay? Or gas tax? Or other taxes?

  • ||

    You need to double your contribution percentages to account for the employer match. That makes half a million lifetime earnings -- less than minimum wage.

    The great majority of illegal immigrants make more than minimum. Include those who get paid under the table, and the average is below minimum.

  • Mo||

    $1 M over 40 years, the average work life, is only $25K a year. That's not too difficult to imagine. And as MikeP says, you only account for half of their total FICA contributions. Also, since illegals aren't eligible for lots of government benefits, like food stamps, they probably don't get a lot of benefits that they don't pay for.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    The average time an illegal alien works in the United States is 40 years? Do you have a cite for that or are you just presuming that they work here from 18/22 to 65 like an "average" American?

  • DesigNate||

    Let's say they work here for 60 years (stereotypically grandmas are still working nanny and maid jobs): $1,045,751.63 / 60 = $17,429. Now if you were implying that they actually retire earlier than 65, you get $1,045,751.63 / 30 = $34,858. A fluctuation between those numbers sounds about right.

  • American Tea Bagger||

    They pay SS and Medicare, but are ineligible.

    You do realize that that is an arguement for keeping them illegal, right?

    After all, if they are legal they will become just one more future underfunded liablity to the entitlement scheme. Unless you think they all will make over 100k for every year they work here and will die shortly after retiring.

  • ||

    I'd add that keeping them illegal makes them like slave labor... most of the pro open boarder arguments are made on the same bases as slavery (it's good for the economy, they cant do other work, white people wont do those jobs).

  • ||

    So the real question is do illegal immigrants who pay more cover those who don't? I mean, as long as it's a closed loop where they take care of themselves, who cares?

  • ||

    "It is America's business if we want to give people stuff." I don't want to give people stuff.

  • ||

    I should have said I will decide what stuff I give to who.

  • Metazoan||

    It's not America's business if they want to give people MY stuff. I see no difference between a native welfare king (queen) and a foreign one. They both steal my money.

  • ||

    Yes, sir.

  • DesigNate||

    + 10000

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Are kids part of that 67%? It doesn't say 67% of adult Americans.

  • ||

    That is a good point. I gaurentee you it includes kids. And since every kid over the age of 5 is required to go to school and the majority of them go to public school, that would explain the 67% figure.

  • Mo||

    I doubt it because that would mean 100% of kids receive more benefits than they pay in taxes. Seeing as how 20% of Americans are 15 or younger, that would leave 24% of all working age Americans that receive less than they pay. The 25th percentile makes

  • Federal Dog||

    The intent of the Fourteeneth Amendment was that race could not exclude anyone from eligibility for citizenship.

    It was never intended to reward law-breakers who defied the law precisely to reap benefits to which they have no right.

  • Zeb||

    Once you figure out how to determine the intent of everyone who crosses the border illegally regarding receipt of social services, we'll talk.

    And no one has a right to social services. Those are entitlements.

  • BeltwayLurker||

    You must be trolling. Nobody is that stupid.

  • American Tea Bagger||

    Once you figure out how to determine the intent of everyone who crosses the border illegally

    Really?

  • ||

    What does intent matter? Whether they come for welfare or for work is immaterial. The law is the law. The law is broken, but we've gotten into so much trouble by bending constitutional laws in the past that I don't think the solution is to forgive everyone. Just fix the law instead.

  • Tony||

    What laws are newly-born children breaking?

  • Federal Dog||

    Their parents are violating the law and using them as pawns to demand reward for their misconduct.

    They should have some minimal respect for their own children instead of using them for personal profit.

  • Law Student||

    Yeah, shame on them for bringing their children to a place that almost guarantees that they will have a better life than their parents did. They have no respect for their children.

  • Hooha||

    Must not have too much respect, or they might have tried to do it the legal way, and not risked the life of their child in a dangerous and illegal border crossing. Oh, but the legal means of obtaining citizenship would be DIFFICULT, and children just aren't worth that much effort, mirite?

    ...oh.

  • Tony||

    The precise problem, the reason immigration reform is supposedly a legislative priority, is because it is too difficult. The system is fucked up and everyone agrees it should be fixed. But good luck getting the most vocal opponents of illegal immigration to the table to actually accomplish that--solving the problem they most care about is not as important as denying Obama a win.

  • Tony||

    Oh and having a cheap labor force that can't vote doesn't hurt.

  • David||

    The legal means of obtaining citizenship is so damn-near-impossible that it's worth making a dangerous and illegal border crossing, working jobs that don't pay minimum wage while living in a country where the cost of living assumes that you do make minimum wage, and living with the constant possibility that you'll be caught and shipped back to your home country. What does that say?

  • ||

    I actually have no idea what immigrating to the US entails but I have a friend who came here from North Korea and one that came from Iraq. If they could go through the process than someone from Mexico can to. However if it is a restiriction of Visas then is it possible to multiply that number by 10 or whatever number is reasonable?

  • David||

    See this handy flowchart, also linked in the article itself. Right next to the note that there are 5,000 visas for low-skill workers available each year. Clearly there is both demand and supply for that number to be far higher than it is.

  • MWG||

    Toolbag,

    If your friends came from North Korea and Iraq, then they came here as refugees which is a totally different process.

  • Hooha||

    "The legal means of obtaining citizenship is so damn-near-impossible that it's worth making a dangerous and illegal border crossing, working jobs that don't pay minimum wage while living in a country where the cost of living assumes that you do make minimum wage, and living with the constant possibility that you'll be caught and shipped back to your home country. What does that say?"

    It says that some people make the piss-poor decision to walk the easy path instead of the right one. I have no sympathy for them, and I have no patience for it when they make my life worse.

    Obtaining legal citizenship SHOULD be hard - you should want like hell to be a part of America if you're going to come here and reap the benefits.

    That said, illegal immigration should be made impossible. Then there'd be no bleeding heart arguments anymore, because those that choose 'easy' would no longer be able to put themselves in harms way and blame US for it.

  • Hate Potion Number Nine||

    Nothing good for those who come here.

  • DLM||

    Must not have too much respect, or they might have tried to do it the legal way,

    With the Byzantine immigration laws we have, it's surprising anyone can figure out what the 'legal way' actually is anymore. (OK, I'm exaggerating a little.)

  • ||

    It took my wife all of three months to get approved, is that hard?

  • DesigNate||

    Where is she from?

  • SK||

    Yes, and she's your WIFE. As an immigration lawyer, I can tell you that legal immigration is an extremely long, painful and ridiculously expensive process. Look at the flowchart linked in the article. Most dirt-poor Mexicans just can't afford to come here legally. The application and processing fees are high, and it's virtually impossible to navigate the system without a lawyer.

  • trollfeed||

    damn those africans who don't do the same as our south of the border friends. don't they have any respect for their children?!

  • ||

    "Yeah, shame on them for bringing their children to a place that almost guarantees that they will have a better life than their parents did." Guarantees it with my money....piss on that! Why don't these genius' stay home and make it better there?

  • ||

    My grandmother was a Canadian Illegal for years and years. I think she got her citizneship just recently.

  • MWG||

    "Guarantees it with my money."

    Oh yea, how so?

  • John Rohan||

    Let's see if you still think that way when a poor family moves into your own home uninvited. It's classic tragedy of the commons: you wouldn't do it yourself but you don't mind pushing the burden on everyone else.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    (God forgive me for doing this...)

    Tony's question was what law has the newborn American broken?

  • Common Sense||

    Kid's a victim. No question about it. The parents should be ashamed of themselves.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    The kid is not a victim. He or she is a citizen.

  • American Tea Bagger||

    So What?

    It amazes me that libertarians that are perfectly ok with citizens starving to death if they don't want to work get all wobbly about the idea of a US citizen one year old having to go back to Mexico with her parents.

    It's almost like they think US citizenship confers automatic priveledges or something.

  • ||

    what law has the newborn American broken

    None. That is what amending the constitutional amendment will fix. After the amendment, the newborn will be... a newborn, but he/she will not be an American citizen. The amendment will reduce the parent's incentive to sneak across the border.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I get that.

    Or, to remove the incentive, we could change the welfare state. And we can keep away from the slippery slope of letting politicians and bureaucrats play with Americans' citizenship for whatever calculated personal gain they would see in doing so.

    We shouldn't go after the American for the illegality of his or her parents. We shouldn't punish one for the actions of another.

  • ||

    Or, to remove the incentive, we could change the welfare state.

    Yeah, that is gonna happen right around the time of the rapture.

    We shouldn't go after the American for the illegality of his or her parents. We shouldn't punish one for the actions of another.

    I agree. Those born here today are Americans. Period. But there is nothing to say that we can't amend the constitution to turn "anchor babies" into ordinary deportable babies.

  • MWG||

    "But there is nothing to say that we can't amend the constitution to turn "anchor babies" into ordinary deportable babies."

    Yeah, that is gonna happen right around the time of the rapture.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Yeah, that is gonna happen right around the time of the rapture.

    That's another problem with this scheme. It doesn't come close to addressing the actual problem. It's just the easier, more populist thing to do.

  • DesigNate||

    Why don't we just send the baby back and say when you're 18 you can decide if you want to be a Mexican citizen or an American citizen?

  • Hooha||

    lol. Win.

  • Mo||

    That's because immigration law didn't exist at the time, unless you were Chinese. The 14th Amendment was intended for the decedents of slaves that the Feds feared Southern states would deny citizenship to. Jus soli wasn't a required part of the 14th Amendment for the children of immigrants because it predates the Constitution and derives from common law. That is partially why the definition "natural born" is assumed by the framers of the constitution.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    You don't understand. This is a way to milk the issue for years, without paying the political cost of actually doing something.

  • MWG||

    ^^ What Fatty said. I was thinking exactly the same thing as I read the article.

    Of course many on the left are using immigration reform for political points as well. That said, the fact that the dems are using immigration for political points, doesn't make the republicans use (especially close to Nov.) any less cynical.

  • ||

    You are absolutely right on this point.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    This was meant as a reply to "A is Awesome|8.11.10 @ 4:44PM|"

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    A person born in this country is likely to grow up in this country. It seems that person would be just as "culturally American" as you or me.

    I suppose removing citizenship from every person on the government dole would be easier than reforming our welfare state. We should do that.

  • ||

    And deport them to the sea

  • Zeb||

    I like birthright citizenship, in spite of its obvious flaws, because it is a simple rule that is difficult to misinterpret. If you are born here, you are a citizen.
    Even if enough people could agree to do away with it to pass an amendment, I do not think it is likely that many people will be able to agree on what the new standard should be. Should one parent need to be a citizen? Both? Or should the parents just need to be residing here legally? What if one parent is an illegal immigrant, but one is not?
    Any new rule on this is bound to be less clearly defined and easier for people to use to support their own policy goals.

  • ||

    How about "mother legally in the United States at the time of birth"?

  • The Gobbler||

    Sexist.

  • BeltwayLurker||

    I think you mean racist. Operative word "illegal".

  • Zeb||

    That seems like a simple enough rule, but I would argue that it is still far more open to abuse than the existing one. I don't think that enough people would agree that that is the proper rule to have either.
    I don't think it is a good rule. Suppose an American man and an illegal immigrant woman have a child together, and both are active parents. I think that child should have automatic citizenship.
    Also "legally in the US" is not well defined and is subject to change based on political whim.

  • ||

    I did mean my comment to be "absent parental citizenship". In your example, the right of citizenship would come from the father.
    I am not sure what cases there would be other than traveling visa that be ambiguous. Other visas, etc are an acknowledgment of long term residency.

  • ||

    I would prefer, "at least one parent of the newborn legally in the US at time of birth".

  • IceTrey||

    No because then a women could just come here on a tourist visa have her kid and the kid is a citizen. People already do this btw.

  • Some Guy||

    Service guarantees citizenship. Would you like to know more?

  • ||

    Zeb, laws against rape are also flawed. It's so difficult to establish consent and even whether the event took place at times.

    This is why libertarians should support legalizing undocumented sex. That is, unless you're a CRAAAZY conservative wacko "teabagger" who think we should OUTLAW SEX! Do you like sex? Do you think it should be continued to be outlawed?

    That's the illegal immigrant/amnesty argument in a nutshell. Same thing with the "stem cell" proponents that really are "fetal" stem cell proponents but can't say so because most cures are developed with ADULT stem cell research which few oppose.

    Sheesh, you crazy white guilt libertarians make leftists and communists seem HONEST by comparison...

  • ||

    Rape has a victim. Illegal immigration doesn't.

  • ||

    When an illegal immigrant commits a rape, then flees back to Mexico and doesn't get extradited, is there a victim?

    Sheesh, MikeP, I'm reminded of the moment when Ronald Reagan confronted Walter Mondale with the question: "If your wife was killed, would you support the death penalty?" and he flubbered and that was it.

  • ||

    Certainly there is a victim in that case, whether or not he fled and whether or not he is extradited. Did you imagine I'd think any differently?

    Of course, when a prospective immigrant who will not ever commit a rape is denied entry into the US, there is a victim there too. Don't you agree?

    By the way, that was George Bush and Michael Dukakis, and the question was asked by the moderator.

  • ||

    No, I expected you to make a blanket declaration and then try to wiggle out of it.

    There are plenty of victims of illegals including not just from COMMON criminal acts such as identity theft but also from the welfare mothers who rob from the taxpayer.

    The crazy libertarian position is that, in principle, they oppose closing the border AND eliminating socialist goodies but that's similar to saying you're not going to lock your door but you also are going to make anyone who enters and tries to steal from you disarm later. It's political insanity.

    No, I disagree that all immigrants denied entry into the USA are "victims." Actually, that very argument illustrates that your policy is unrealistic since millions of people who aren't geographically situated near the United States would like to apply, but don't bother since they would have to so illegally.

    Your argument, therefore, proposes that the whole world of people who want to come to the USA but don't because of immigration restrictions are victims. Is there room for more than a billion people to just move over EVEN IF, magically, the welfare state was done away with?

    Regarding George Bush and Dukakis, thanks. Anyways, great moment.

  • EMp||

    Tell that to people who own homes in neighborhoods that have been flooded with these future 'entreprenurial libertarians'... they will tell you the following - standard of living = steep nosedive, property values = way down, crime = way up, tax funded emergency services = resources dwindled, etc., etc., etc. ...

  • IceTrey||

    This has already been made clear. The law says if one or both parents are citizens so is the child. The Wong case says that children of legal residents are citizens. That's an important distinction in Wong. His parents were both legal residents.

  • ||

    Root misses the obvious argument. It doesn't matter that the kid is a citizen. If his parents get deported, he gets deported. Yeah, he can then come back as an adult. But by that time who cares?

    I don't think birth right citizenship is a big deal or worth repealing. But this is without a doubt one of the sorriest pieces of argument I have ever read in Reason.

  • ||

    Actually, the kid, being a citizen cannot be deported. He can continue to stay in the US, in the care of relatives, and this is not unheard of.

    The parents can be deported and they have a choice about whether to take their citizen child with them or not.

  • Doc||

    I think the 'birthright citizenship' is one of the greatest things about this country. What a statement that you're born here, you're an American. Period.

    Why are republicans ALWAYS looking to shrink liberty, shrink freedom, shrink that tent to just the whitest of the the white Christians?

    This is even MORE disgraceful of them than usual.

  • Liberal Ignoramus||

    Yes! They should be like us Democrats, and shrink liberty and freedom for everybody.

  • ||

    that is why they are saying white Europeans can still get it. Why are Democrats always making stupid and insulting arguments.

  • Geotpf||

    I'm fairly surprised that such tactics seem to work.

    Actually, scratch that-I don't think they do. I think the upcoming election comes down to this thought in the head of many moderates or independents:

    "The economy sucks. The Democrats are in power. Maybe if we vote for the other guys, the economy will stop sucking."

    That's it. There's nothing beyond that that explains the current polling, beyond the typical after-a-party-switch-the-party-in-power-loses-seats-in-the-next-midterm-election.

    Other than those two issues, everything else is a side show. You can't even make arguments that the Republicans will do better (or worse) than the Democrats on the economy-all that matters is that they are in the opposition at the moment.

  • ||

    """Why are republicans ALWAYS looking to shrink liberty, shrink freedom, shrink that tent to just the whitest of the the white Christians?""

    They love to shrink freedom as much as any other politicial. But quite frankly if me and my pregnant wife went on vacation to France, and my wife had the baby in France. I wouldn't want my baby to automatically be a French citizen.

    I have nooooooooo problem ending birth right citizenship.

    The way I see it, forcing the babies of foreingers to become American citizens is NOT pro-freedom.

  • Law Student||

    What a bunch of crap. The kid would have dual-citizenship and then get to choose when they are an adult.

  • BeltwayLurker||

    Good thing you are still a student. Every country does not offer dual citizenship. He was only using France as a placeholder.

  • ||

    Actually, Law Student, most dual nationals do not have to make any such choice at all. They are dual nationals all their lives.

    My mother's cousin, born in France to Amrican parents in the early thirties has spent his life mostly as an American citizen and resident. He could not travel to France from the time he was eighteen to sometime in his thirties because he faced the risk of being drafted into the French Army.

    Another guy I knew was a dual British-Swiss national. He never traveled to Switzerland because even when I new him in his late forties he faced being drafted. He mostly considered himself British.

    My daughter is a dual Canadian-US citizen. She carries two passports and uses them interchangeably as it suits her. She's well past the age of majority.

  • MJ||

    I understand that the US does not officially recognize dual citizenship (an American citizen is not supposed to have foreign allegeinces).

    But you're friends did not travel to their second "homeland" because they did not want to fulfill the responsibilities of being a citizen of that country, so they were neither really "French" or "Swiss", were they?

  • ||

    According to the respective governments involved they most certainly were "French" or "Swiss". Citizenship at birth is something that is imposed not something that is chosen.

    I had a long talk about the whole subject of dual nationality with a Vice-Consul at the US Consulate in Toronto. The US government has no problem with dual nationality except in cases where the second possible alegiance is to a hostile power.

    By the way the guy told me that all his kids except one had two passports. Not all countries deny birthright citizenship to foreign government officials, apparently. Also it is worth noting that Consular official do not have the same status as Embassy officials. The serve two different functions.

  • G Mc||

    It's not really "forcing" anything on anyone is it? I mean there's no affirmative action required on your part simply for being an American citizen at birth.

  • ||

    I once had a really weird thought experiment idea about extending US citizenship to everybody in the world. Not residency, mind you, just citizenship. In the simplest case, it is totally unworkable, but the general idea is to catch our ideological opponents off guard and extend some small benefits as all. Imagine what would happen if everybody on earth got even just a dollar from the US. Sure, you'd insult a billion people, and another billion or two would just have their dollars immediately stolen, but the rest...

    It might have been the craziest thing I ever thought.

  • ||

    That is kind of awesome.

  • American Tea Bagger||

    When some future Caracalla does that it will signal the end of freedom everywhere.

    Not something any libertarian should hope for. Not even the house broken liberal douche variety.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Right on!

  • ||

    Several months later, those same Republicans introduced legislation that become the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,

  • BeltwayLurker||

    Good observation. Should be becamed.

  • hgf||

    becamed?

    became

  • David||

    Becomified.

  • DDavis||

    I'm surprised, but gratified, to see the other comments panning the article.

    I see lots of red herrings in the article, but I don't see the issue addressed. Two simple questions to answer.

    Is birthright citizenship an incentive for people to come to the US and have their children here? People want a better life for their children. US citizenship would enable a better life for hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people around the world. Of course birthright citizenship is an enticement for foreign nationals to have their kids here. Denying the obvious doesn't strengthen your argument.

    Do we want to allow foreign nationals to do this, or not? If you advocate an open border policy, I suppose you'd say yes. I don't. I'm honestly selfish about preserving the wealth and privileges I have as a result of US citizenship.

  • Metazoan||

    Isn't it kind of silly to assume you will lose wealth because other people will come in? I think I will gain wealth via free immigration. I see your attempt to prevent this as an attack on my freedom to associate (hire foreigners).

    You'd have thought that over 230 years after the publication of The Wealth of Nations, people would finally quit thinking protectionism has anything to offer the populace at large. Well, you'd have thought wrong, apparently.

  • John Rohan||

    In a purely theoretical model, where space is infinite, you may be right. But the reality is that the United States consists of a finite amount of land that already has 300 million people on it (about ten times what it had when the 14th was written).

    So you really think the USA will be more "wealthy" with 600 million? How about 6 billion?

  • ||

    But the reality is that the United States consists of a finite amount of land that already has 300 million people on it...

    ...placing it at the 25th percentile in population density among the countries of the world.

  • DesigNate||

    I'm so glad you went there. You see, the US is about 2,263,228,160 Acres. That is roughly .38 acres / every man, woman, and child on the planet. Obviously we need roads and stuff, but the entire world could live on US soil leaving the rest of the world as farmable / industrial zones.

    Of course that is also assuming that all 6B people would want to live here. Ostensibly there are people who are fiercely patriotic and nationalistic for their home countries.

    Unfortunately, this doesn't address the issue of wealth, but at least it shows everyone that the "we're full" idea is bupkiss.

  • ||

    A completely open border, that anyone can cross to work, to live, for whatever reason would result in the obliteration of the distinct nation of the USA.

    Since I believe that it is the differences from the rest of the world that make the USA such a prized destination for immigrants from all over the world, removing any ability to maintain those differences would remove not just the incentive for immigrants to come here, but the very basis of our society--which would leave us without the thing that has given us the ability to be 'libertarians' in the first place.

    In libertarianism, if your starting point is not that the American idea of liberty is worth protecting, defending, and expanding--in that order, then you are not a libertarian.

  • ||

    A completely open border, that anyone can cross to work, to live, for whatever reason would result in the obliteration of the distinct nation of the USA.

    As witness the obliteration of the distinct nation of the USA until 1924.

  • Contrarian P||

    I agree with you here. Putting aside whether you endorse the idea or not, denying that illegal immigrants would be attracted by the idea that their children would be citizens of the United States is laughable. Free education even for the poorest child, social assistance in raising them, feeding them, and clothing them, and the potential for them to become members of the well to do aren't incentives relative to the conditions in the homeland?

    Cherry-picking a couple of quotes from opponents saying what a bill or proposed amendment would do proves the intent of those who wrote it. The article seems very poorly argued to me. Who cares what Andrew Johnson thought the bill meant? What did those who actually wrote the thing think? If you're arguing from a historical point of view, that's far more relevant.

    Personally, I do not believe the language in the bill guarantees citizenship to anyone born here as it clearly indicates that a condition of it being applicable is that the individual in question must be "subject to the jurisdiction (of the United States)" which is difficult to postulate if the parents of the child are not here legally. The argument that white children of immigrants aren't really affected only holds water provided the white immigrants are here illegally.

    By the way, I'm not against granting birthright citizenship. I am, however, against taking a constitutional amendment and interpreting it (as the Supreme Court routinely does) in a way that would not have been understood by those who wrote it. Simply ignoring "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" is a perfect example. If simply being present in the United States, regardless of the status of the parents, was enough to grant citizenship, as is currently the interpretation, why bother inserting that particular point? Think about it. The amendment would say what it is currently interpreted as meaning without that particular line. Why then include it?

  • DDavis||

    #### Simply ignoring "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" is a perfect example. If simply being present in the United States, regardless of the status of the parents, was enough to grant citizenship, as is currently the interpretation, why bother inserting that particular point?

    Thank you for correcting me. I hadn't thought of this issue. Multiple sources indicate that
    "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" referred to something like "every human being born within the jurisdiction of the United States of parents not owing allegiance to any foreign sovereignty."

    I was wrong about the constitutionality issue - looks like there is clear evidence that birthright citizenship was not originally intended to apply to babies born of foreign nationals.

    Which, of course, makes much more sense than saying anyone born here is a citizen. If a pregnant woman from Japan has a child while on vacation in Yellowstone, what sense does it make to claim that child as a US citizen?

  • ||

    "Personally, I do not believe the language in the bill guarantees citizenship to anyone born here as it clearly indicates that a condition of it being applicable is that the individual in question must be "subject to the jurisdiction (of the United States)" which is difficult to postulate if the parents of the child are not here legally. The argument that white children of immigrants aren't really affected only holds water provided the white immigrants are here illegally."

    BINGO!

  • ||

    I don't really have a problem with birthright citizenship.

    As long as the li'l anchor baby's relatives don't get any special immigration treatment, of course.

  • ||

    And they don't. As I said above, if the kid's parents get deported he usually goes with them.

  • Mo||

    You can't bring your parents into the US as part of family reunification until you're 21.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    Even then it is not automatic, though it is easier than them getting a visa on their own.

  • ||

    """As long as the li'l anchor baby's relatives don't get any special immigration treatment, of course.""

    With one, you will get the other. Since the baby is American, they will have the burden of the baby becoming a citizen in their own country. I say whoever created the rules that make that problem need to be the ones to unfuck it.

  • ||

    Most countries grant citizenship to children of their citzens who are born in foreign countries with some exceptions. These children then become dual nationals.

    A lot of the foofaraw about "anchor babies" is the notion that they have divided loyalties. I'm sure Lonewhacko would be able to explain how they are all agents of the reconquista.

  • IceTrey||

    Most must choose one or the other nationality when they turn 18.

  • John Rohan||

    Unfortunately, they do. Having a US citizen child allows the parent to collect various welfare benefits (varied by state). It is also a factor in their favor at their deportation hearing.

  • DesigNate||

    But see that's not a problem of immigration, that's a problem with welfare and social services.

  • ||

    The kid's parents can still get deported but their child remains a US citizen. Initially, the parents don't get any immigration benefit. However, when the kid turns 18, he can sponsor them for permanent residence in the US. So there is an incentive to throw an anchor that will bear fruit 18 years in the future. The border states receive numerous pregnant women who cross from Mexico, both legally and illegally, give birth to US citizens here and then go back. They're hedging their bets for their families for the future. It makes sense for them at an individual level. Does it make sense for us as a nation?

    BTW, I am a brown-skinned naturalized citizen who came here legally, jumped through all the arduous hoops needed to become a permanent resident, and the relatively easy process to become a citizen thereafter. It annoys me to see Reason magazine and its authors glibly elide the differences between legal immigrants who respect the law of the land, and illegal immigrants who begin their journey into the US while disrespecting the law of their new home. By why bother with these distinctions when you can just accuse your opponent of racism and bigotry, anyway?

  • ||

    And by the way, as another commenter has pointed out below, a study from the Pew Hispanic Center, finds that 8% of US newborns - one in 12 - are children of illegal aliens:

    http://edition.cnn.com/2010/US.....index.html

  • Some dude||

    Can someone explain to me why "...and subject to the jurisdiction thereof..." applies to all babies who happen to be born in a certain geographical area known as the USA?

  • G Mc||

    Because the US is the jurisdiction to which they are subject?

  • Geotpf||

    That line is meant to exclude the children of agents of foreign governments (ambassadors and the like). Illegal immigrants aren't excluded by that line.

  • G Mc||

    You learn something new everyday...

  • Some dude||

    Why didn't it just say "...and not a child of agents of foreign governments..."?

    Do other countries mind when the US presumptuously claims a child of their citizens to be American just because they were born here?

  • Tony||

    The only people on American soil who are not subject to its total jurisdiction are foreign diplomats and, say, foreign invaders.

    If this 14th Amendment circus continues, watch for the argument to shift to calling illegal immigrants foreign invaders.

  • John Rohan||

    How do they differ from foreign invaders?

  • Tony||

    Because you're stupid.

  • G Mc||

    I think that's exactly the point... we do not presumptuously declare the children of those here as registered foreign state agents to be citizens.

  • Some Guy||

    Because when writing it, they figured people would understand big words and not have to explain what they mean in the text.

  • Contrarian P||

    So an illegal immigrant would not be considered an agent of a foreign government? How do you differentiate them? Because they aren't here in an official capacity?

  • Tony||

    They are not diplomats, and they are certainly subject to the laws of this country when they're here.

  • Contrarian P||

    Ah, so to you the language actually reads "those not with diplomatic immunity"?

  • G Mc||

    No, it just means people who, by some other law or reason, are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

  • Contrarian P||

    Even those with diplomatic immunity can be brought to trial for certain offenses, meaning that by the interpretation presented there is literally no person who would be exempt.

    While I'm at it, did I ask you that question? I believe it was directed at another poster. I'm sure he appreciates you telling us all what he meant.

  • Some dude||

    So just make a law that unauthorized occupants of US space are not subject to the jurisdiction thereof.

  • G Mc||

    That law would be unconstitutional... what part of this aren't you understanding?

  • Some Guy||

    So just make a law that unauthorized occupants of US space are not subject to the jurisdiction thereof.

    I don't think you've thought your cunning plan all the way through.

  • Some Guy||

    That, plus members untaxed native Americans tribes, but I don't know if we still have any of those.

    (They also don't count on the census.)

  • BeltwayLurker||

    What State is the parent or child a resident of?

  • ||

    See my comment further down the thread. "Subject to the jurisdiction thereof..." does not mean simply being obliged to obey the law in the US. It means owing (or having sworn) allegiance to the government. It means, for instance, being obliged to obey US law when in OTHER lands (such as the constitutional provision that forbids US citizens to accept foreign titles of nobility). Immigrants and visitors are not "subject" to US jurisdiction.

  • Metazoan||

    If they aren't subject to the jurisdiction of the US, how can CIS deport them?

  • ||

    CIS can't deport them, presuming you mean the infant American citizen.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    Can someone explain to me why "...and subject to the jurisdiction thereof..." applies to all babies who happen to be born in a certain geographical area known as the USA?

    What would the US government say is some illegal immigrant responding in a US court claimed that they were not "subject to the jurisdiction" of that court?

    That's why.

  • ||

    There are several meanings to "jurisdiction," usually, but not always indicated by a qualifying adjective. The authors of the 14th meant "complete jurisdiction," as in, "being a subject/citizen of" or "owing allegiance to." They said so specifically.

  • IceTrey||

    Because people think "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" means just "territorial' jurisdiction. It was actually meant to mean "the COMPLETE jurisdiction thereof" which also include 'personal" jurisdiction.

  • EasyPeasy||

    I don't understand why immigration officials don't just deport the parents once they figure out they are here illegally. They can have the option of leaving their child in U.S., care via social services, or they can take them with them back to whatever country they came from.

  • ||

    That's what happens now, except for the "care via social services" thing.

    When illegal aliens are apprehended by ICE they are deported. The existence of an "anchor baby" changes absolutely nothing. The parents of an "anchor baby" will be deported just like any other illegal alien.

    The parents have the option of taking the child with them or leaving it in the care of friends or relatives who are legal residents. Of course, if those people are either citizens or eligible legal residents they my receive public assistance.

    The "anchor baby" is for the most part a white trash myth along the same lines as the "blacks (and/or cuban refugees) get higher welfare benefits that white people do".

  • John Rohan||

    That's not true. At deportation hearings, the family can claim adverse impact to avoid deportation, and having an anchor baby greatly helps.

    With a US citizen baby parents can also collect welfare benefits in some states.

    Moreover, when the "baby" turns 21, he/she can sponsor the rest of the family to immigrate legally.

    These aren't "myths" at all, and if you believe otherwise you are deliberately blinding yourself to the problem.

  • Tony||

    Ugly racial scapegoating by Republicans during a mid-term election year? I never!

    At least the heat is off us gays for the time being. Well, maybe. With the Prop 8 ruling and the 'ground zero mosque' there's practically a cornucopia of minorities to pick on. I can't remember who but one of the Republican cunts actually said something along the lines of "we're not doing the gays this year, we have mexicans."

  • ||

    It must suck to be a gay Mexican welfare recipient.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    Ugly racial scapegoating by Republicans during a mid-term election year? I never!

    I don't think it is that mundane. The xenophobia against immigrants comes directly from fallaciously thinking that jobs are a) entitlements and b) owned by a certain group (i.e. the "Americans")

    At least the heat is off us gays for the time being. Well, maybe. With the Prop 8 ruling and the 'ground zero mosque' there's practically a cornucopia of minorities to pick on.


    "Us" gays? Ok. Anyway, there IS a lot of bigotry against Mexicans but it is not out of racism, it's cultural.
  • Tony||

    Maybe, but scapegoating minorities for a country's problems is no bueno, whatever lizard-brain node they're tapping into.

  • Old Mexican||

    Agreed.

  • ||

    Agreed. What minorities are being scape-goated?

  • Tony||

    What year is it? I think it's the year of the Mexicans destroying our livelihoods. The gays were destroying our livelihood, but that's so 2004.

  • Just a Question||

    What does illegal immigration have to do with race?

    Why couldn't an English-Speaking White Canadian be an illegal immigrant?

  • Tony||

    Ask those who aren't calling for building a giant fence on the border of Canada.

  • Just a Question||

    Fences might not even be needed if this issue were taken care of.

  • Tony||

    How would changing citizenship requirements stop illegal immigration?

  • PIRS||

    The tyrants in DC might put that up before too long. After they have taken away all of our other rights.

    But with so many of our rights being taken away I am seeing less and less of an advantage of "citizenship" anyway. I mean now they can assassinate you without a trial even if you ARE a citizen. So what is the point?

    Maybe we would be doing these people a favor by denying them citizenship at this point, sorry to say.

  • Contrarian P||

    Maybe because there isn't a flood of illegal Canadian immigrants? If there were and there was only a fence on the Mexican side, you might have something. As it is, addressing a problem which doesn't exist just to give equal time versus one that does just doesn't seem to make a lot of sense.

  • Tony||

    If there were a flood of Canadian immigrants (and how do you know there isn't?), I don't think the issue would be nearly as heated. There is an ugly component to this and I find it hard for anyone to deny.

  • PIRS||

    Tony,

    I have to ask you something.

    Before I ask my question I want to preface this by saying, I oppose this proposal of denying certain people citizenship just because their parents came here without the permission of government bureaucrats. I am on record as supporting free and open borders. But I also oppose the welfare state. If you are the same Tony I have seen here before I think you support the welfare state, am I wrong?

    So, how would you determine who gets goodies from the government largess and who does not? What would prevent others not on your list from getting on your list?

  • Tony||

    Goodies should go to minorities and union members. Just kidding. I dunno, citizenship means you're entitled to certain rights and privileges and also have certain responsibilities. I do believe in a social safety net and that certain basic services ought to be subsidized so that they are universally available despite wealth, so I guess the only factor that could determine who gets "goodies" would be individual wealth--though I also believe that the wealthy benefit from such programs just as much as the people taking advantage them.

  • PIRS||

    ", so I guess the only factor that could determine who gets "goodies" would be individual wealth--"

    OK, and this is the real point of my query, what would prevent (hypothetically) the entire poor population of [insert scapegoat nation] from crossing a border and claiming these benefits thereby draining the system dry? I support the free market so this would not be a problem in my view, I would cheer if government coffers were drained, they would have fewer resources with which to oppress us. But I think you can see where I cam coming from. Their proposal is actually logical given the premise that there should be be lots of government programs that might attract others to come here.

  • Tony||

    PIRS,

    If your hypothetical were to come to pass, it would indeed be a major drain, but I don't think it's reality. Immigrants aren't here for government goodies, they're here for work. They use less in the way of social services than others, which might have to do with the fact that they're not citizens. If immigration is properly regulated, it's not hard to balance these things out. The problem today is that we have essentially a system of de facto amnesty for millions of immigrants who are illegal only because there is not a good system for making them legal.

  • PIRS||

    "If immigration is properly regulated, it's not hard to balance these things out. The problem today is that we have essentially a system of de facto amnesty for millions of immigrants who are illegal only because there is not a good system for making them legal."

    So you agree with Conservatives that there should be limits on immigration, you just disagree with on what those regulation should say?

    If you could write the immigration laws they way you want them, what would become of those who cross without obeying your laws? Would police in Arizona be able to check their status? If not why not?

  • Tony||

    PIRS,

    There should be a better naturalization process so that there is less of an incentive to cross the border illegally. By better of course I mean more liberalized. I'd keep the law for illegal crossing the same as it is, which I believe is as a civil misdemeanor.

  • ||

    If immigration is properly regulated

    How do you properly regulate a literal human flood of people crossing the border? Do you mean, "if immigration were allowed without limits"?

  • Contrarian P||

    Well there may be, but those pesky illegal Canadians are doing a damn good job of hiding it, right up there with the aliens that crashed at Roswell. Find me some evidence that there are millions of illegal Canadians. There's plenty regarding Mexicans.

    You are arguing based on your opinions, not facts. You are assuming that everybody who is against illegal immigration is racist. If there were a bunch of Canadians who were seen as taking American jobs, screwing the taxpayer through increased school costs for ESL, WIC, and various other programs, and having various criminal gangs operating, I believe that the argument might be every bit as heated. Of course, I realize that I might be blind to said Canadian epidemic happening within our midst. But I believe that as someone who is accusing people of racism, the burden should be on you to prove it. I'm rather tired of the notion that merely accusing someone of racial intolerance puts the onus on them to prove that they aren't. How do you prove you aren't a particular ideology?

  • Tony||

    Contrarian P,

    I don't think everybody who is hawkish on immigration is a racist. I DO know that those in positions of power who are hawkish on immigration also have absolutely no intention of working to fix it, but merely to use it as a wedge issue in a midterm election year. Now given those people's history of wedge issues, I don't think it's based entirely on a rational concern with immigration laws, but on stoking the prejudices of their base voters. If the concern were with fixing immigration then we could easily have had a reform law by now.

  • MWG||

    As an open boarders advocate, I can tell you that both sides use the issue for political gain. Repubs use it for short-term political gain. (The AZ law is extremely popular.) Dems use it for long-term political gain. They believe hispanic voters will inevitably vote democrat in the future.

    Please, take off your blue shaded glasses.

  • Tony||

    MWG,

    True, but working for the interests of a constituency is what they're supposed to do to earn votes. Which is not exactly the same thing as scapegoating a minority to scrounge for votes among others.

  • TypicalConservative||

    "True, but working for the interests of a constituency is what they're supposed to do to earn votes."

    You mean political pandering... they're not disinterested 'servants' of the public.

  • Contrarian P||

    I do agree with you that this is more bogus Republican rabble rousing. I notice how they suddenly come all for the common man, stamp out the debt, and guard those borders when it's politically expedient to do so, but when those aren't hot issues, they are in the other camp. No wonder they have no credibility.

  • ||

    Ask those who aren't calling for building a giant fence on the border of Canada.

    Painfully stupid dodge of the question.

  • Brian Trust||

    Funny thing, there was a border patrol checkpoint this past weekend that was stopping every car on the highway. Going southbound. In northern New Hampshire.

    Clearly they were on the hunt for messicans...

  • John Rohan||

    Democrats accusing their opponents of racism in the absence of any substantive argument during an election year? I never!

  • DDavis||

    I agree that it should require a constitutional amendment to change the rule.

    It should, but given the usually presumed elasticity of the commerce clause, theories of living constitutions, and the fact that the Justices routinely just make shit up, I don't doubt legislators could make this law of the land without much of a fuss.

    It would be interesting to have the Repubs grow a pair, pretend to mean what they say, and actually do it the right way and try to amend the constitution.

  • ||

    "...and the fact that the Justices routinely just make shit up..."

    Read the Wong Kim Ark opinion. That is precisely how they got birthright citizenship "from" the 14th Amendment.

  • G Mc||

    Ha, this kind of preposterous crap is why the Republicans suck.

  • kamakiri001||

    "After all, as Sen. Trumbull’s comments and President Johnson’s veto message suggest, the original public meaning of the Citizenship Clause, just like its nearly identical counterpart in the Civil Rights Act, included birthright citizenship."
    --------------

    False:

    "As a Senator, Howard is credited with working closely with Abraham Lincoln in drafting and passing the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which abolished slavery. In the Senate, he also served on the Joint Committee on Reconstruction which drafted the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

    During debate over the first clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, he argued for including the phrase and subject to the jurisdiction thereof. Howard said:

    [The 14th amendment] will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the government of the United States, but will include every other class of person."

  • G Mc||

    Uh, no, that doesn't prove anything "false." Legislative history is usually contradicts itself, what's important is where the weight of the commentary falls.

  • ||

    Isn't the most natural reading of Howard's statement that "who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the government of the United States" is a qualifier on "foreigners"?

    That is, those foreigners who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the government of the United States are exactly the people excluded from citizenship at birth. Every other class of person, including every other class of foreigner, is included.

  • ||

    House Minority Leader John Boehner

    This orange-skinned non-entity might be Speaker of the House.
    Optimists, despair. Pessimists, rejoice!

  • Loompaland immigration||

    We're missing our village idiot.

  • jasno||

    It seems to me that the country for which birthright citizenship was a good idea no longer exists. We are not the same country we were 200 years ago, and we are certainly not as isolated, physically, as we were 200 years ago. As far as I know, we did not have an expensive social services system 200 years ago.

    If your parents managed to claw their way to America and you lived through a 1800's birth, then by all means you deserved citizenship.

  • ||

    The article is wrong. Although a new constitutional amendment could definitively "fix" the birthright citizenship problem, it is not strictly necessary: a Supreme Court decision gave us birthright citizenship and a Supreme Court decision could also eliminate it. I admit that we would, more likely, pass a constitutional amendment. But that isn't the ONLY way to resolve the issue.

    The US repudiated the concept of irrevocable citizenship attached to place of birth when it declared independence. The King's position was that the residents of the colonies were subjects of the crown, then and forever. We said, "no, we are within our rights to declare independence and determine our own citizenship."

    "Subject to the jurisdiction thereof..." means owing allegiance to the government in question. In our system of government, children are presumed to have the allegiances of their parents. An immigrant, illegal or not, or a visitor (regardless of length of stay) owes and has sworn no allegiance to the US. Absent the Wong Kim Ark decision or some other act of the government, we would presume that minor, non-emancipated children of immigrants and visitors would have the same allegiances as their parents, regardless of place of birth, and thus not be fully subject to US jurisdiction. This is a common-sense idea that, if necessary, should be put into the Constitution via amendment. But it is possible that a future Supreme Court ruling will achieve the same end.

  • Tony||

    Birthright citizenship is very much in keeping with the "American spirit." Privilege doesn't come with parentage. If you're lucky enough to be born on U.S. soil, then you're not handicapped because of who your parents happen to be. Sounds good to me.

    I can't see how restricting citizenship rules helps the immigration problem one iota. Realize that places such as in Europe which have stricter citizenship rules also have worse immigration issues. People tend to assimilate pretty well in the US. I sometimes get the feeling that's exactly what anti-immigrant people are afraid of.

  • ||

    On this, Tony, we agree.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    Yet another sign that the end times are nigh.

  • ||

    "Birthright citizenship is very much in keeping with the 'American spirit.' Privilege doesn't come with parentage. If you're lucky enough to be born on U.S. soil, then you're not handicapped because of who your parents happen to be. Sounds good to me."

    That is indeed a nice sounding fairy tale, Tony. But not only does it render the "subject to the jurisdiction" clause irrelevant (contradicting a key principle of constitutional law, which is that NO clause is irrelevant), but the simplistic approach has led to all manner of practical and political problems in our modern land of entitlements. Plus, it just doesn't make sense that tourists traveling through or temporary visitors (even foreign students who are here for years at a time) should produce US citizens merely by giving birth within our borders -- or that babies born to Americans who happen to be overseas at the time would be DENIED US citizenship, which is the scenario that lies on the other side of your fairy-tale looking glass.

  • Tony||

    That fairy-tale looking glass is the reality of this country for at least 140 years. The problems you think are there are overblown in your head. We do a better job at assimilation than countries with stricter citizenship rules, and you haven't laid out how changing the citizenship rules will solve any of the problems you claim we have. You are such a libertarian--you had the good luck to achieve American citizenship by the accident of your birth, therefore fuck everyone else.

    If we had an economy that actually rewarded work so that our economy could handle immigration in a way that makes people upwardly mobile and assets to rather than drains on the economy, you wouldn't have anything to complain about. And all immigration needs is immigration reform--something being barricaded against by the people in power most vocal about the alleged problems.

  • ||

    James-what about the plain, unambiguous language? We, you included, fault the courts for straying from the plain meaning of the constitution as say, for example, the first amendment and commercial speech or the privileges and immunities clause of the 14th amemdment and the right to operate a slaughterhouse free from a state sanctioned monopoly.

  • ||

    The plain language of the Constitution includes the "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" phrase, the meaning of which precludes children born of foreign parents from automatically becoming US citizens because they are, at the time, fully subject to foreign jurisdiction, and only partially, temporarily subject to our own.

  • G Mc||

    James, the justifications of the colonists as to their treachery is really of no relevance here. We are bound by the Constitution - it is our social contract, literally. It has real legal weight - other revolutionary sources are merely indirectly useful. There is virtually no chance of a Supreme Court ruling that overrides stare decisis and the plain language of the Constitution.

  • Contrarian P||

    "There is virtually no chance of a Supreme Court ruling that overrides stare decisis and the plain language of the Constitution."

    There is? I thought "shall not be infringed" was pretty damn plain but it seems to not be according to the court.

  • G Mc||

    Read some legal history.

  • Contrarian P||

    Boy, you got me there. Any particular legal history you'd like me to read, or do I just get to pick? What a comeback. Wow. I just can't get over it.

  • G Mc||

    Try any of it.

  • ||

    See my other comments in this same general area of the thread. The binding language of the Constitution seems to support my view. I raised the issue of the Declaration and the circumstances of our War for Independence as a guide to interpretation and understanding, but even without it, the language of the 14th Amendment is clear.

  • Some Guy||

    "Subject to the jurisdiction thereof..." means owing allegiance to the government in question.

    No it doesn't. If it did it would mean I could get out of speeding tickets by pledging my allegiance to Canada when pulled over.

  • ||

    No. Anybody who goes anywhere is obliged to obey the law where he is standing. Canadians have to pay US traffic tickets UNLESS the two governments agree otherwise. ("Diplomatic immunity" is a well-known result of such agreements.)

    Being "subject to the jurisdiction" goes even deeper. If the US passed a law that said any foreigner earning money here had to pay taxes on it, that would be similar to the speeding ticket situation. While the foreigner was here, earning money, he would be obliged to obey it. If he skipped the country later and refused to pay the tax, we might ask his government to extradite him for trial and possible punishment here. On the other hand, anything the foreigner earned in his native country, or elsewhere overseas, wouldn't be subject to that tax. If we passed a law that said any foreigner who EVER worked in the US would forever after owe US taxes on all income, whether or not earned in the US, THAT would obviously exceed our jurisdiction. BUT, if we passed a law that said all US Citizens were subject to income tax, no matter where or how the income were earned, THAT would NOT exceed our jurisdiction. Laws that pertain to US citizens follow them around the world, because US citizens are subject to US jurisdiction.

    To others: My thought that a future Supreme Court ruling might strike down birthright citizenship by overturning (or clarifying) Wong Kim Ark is indeed based on the plain language of the 14th Amendment. Aliens -- especially "illegal" aliens and their offspring who have not been naturalized as US citizens -- do NOT owe and have not sworn allegiance to the US, and so are not "subject to the jurisdiction thereof." They do not qualify for birthright citizenship under the 14th Amendment. Whether the Wong Kim Ark ruling was mistaken, or has only been misinterpreted down through the years, a new Supreme Court decision could rectify the situation. But, as I said earlier, I don't think that is a very likely outcome.

  • Some Guy||

    http://dictionary.reference.co.....risdiction

    Show me where in there jurisdiction means any of that.

    You're trying to invent complication where none exists in order to get an outcome you desire.

    Just accept that you don't like that part of the Constitution and try to get it changed if you really want to, but quit with the redefinition of words.

  • ||

    Others here have cited language from those who were in Congress when the 14th was written and debated, in particular Senator Howard, the author of the citizenship clause, who informed us that "subject to the jurisdiction" meant, in other words, "owing (exclusive) allegiance to."

    Dictionary entries are secondary sources of meaning. I'm not making anything up, only trying to provide useful examples for understanding the concept. If you want to concoct your own examples from reading the original sources, be my guest.

  • Some Guy||

    Perhaps he should have worded it that way and voted on such an amendment, then. The meaning seemed clear enough to Senators complaining about the Chinese at the time.

  • IceTrey||

    Remember Wongs parents were legal US residents who were only being denied citizenship due to the Chinese Exclusion Laws.

  • A proposed compromise||

    How about granting the child of an illegal immigrant U.S. Citizenship – but only at age 18 and only if that person comes to the United States or a U.S embassy or consulate and requests it? This would prevent the problems some Conservatives are concerned about without throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    throwing the baby out with the bathwater

    How apropos.

  • ||

    I'm very much in favor of a consitutional amendment to stop this.

    At the mimumum one parent should be a US citizen to grant a baby born here citizenship.

  • Tony||

    Why?

  • ||

    To discourage illegals from entering the country to pop out an anchor baby, and also to eliminate the 'citizenship tourists". It's really pretty easy to understand.

  • Tony||

    Do you think that such a problem as "anchor babies" actually exists to the extent that it requires amending the constitution over?

  • ||

    I don't know how extensive the problem is, do you?

    A constitutional amendment would be a difficult process, so I am not sure it is worth it. I am not even sure how the process works, exactly. I know that it requires 2/3 of the congress to initiate and 3/4 of the states to ratify, but does that mean 3/4 of the state's legislators, or 3/4 of the state's voters?

    I do see the anchor baby thing as a problem, but maybe not worth fixing.

  • David||

    "Anchor babies" aren't very good anchors, since if their families are found to be illegal immigrants, only the baby gets to stay.

  • John Rohan||

    According to a very recent study by Pew Research center, about 8% of all children born in the US are now "anchor babies" (340,000 last year). I think that's quite a substantial number.
    http://edition.cnn.com/2010/US.....index.html

  • DesigNate||

    You say potatoe, I say potahto.

  • ||

    The solution, as always, is less government. Applied to this issue, it means no welfare for anybody, regular americans or otherwise.

  • Tony||

    That to me sounds like the proper libertarian position. What is a libertarian doing bitching that someone is stealing entitlements he doesn't even think he's entitled to in the first place?

  • ||

    Tony, didn't you see that I agree with your position as articulated in your 7:00 pm post?

    Furthermore, you should know that there are some of us here who bitch a a lot more vociferouslsy about rent seeking Archer Daniels Midland types than a given individual getting some entitlement payola.

  • Tony||

    Yeah and while I wasn't agreeing with your premise I was praising your post as consistent. My question was rhetorical, not accusatory.

  • MWG||

    Libertarians!? Ha! No my statist friend, they're conservatives in libertarian clothing.

  • ||

    What is the difference between a conservative and a libertarian besides wanting a little less anarchy.

  • MWG||

    Libertarians are absolutely (or should be) consistent in the belief in limited govt. and maximum freedom. Ending the drug war, legalizing prostitution, gambling, and any other behavior between consenting adults. The govt. has absolutely no business even being in the business of marriage...

    As you can see, the list of differences is quite extensive.

  • ||

    The success of a libertarian Republic requires an educated and politically active populace....yes?

    Well.......we will never ever have it.

  • ||

    Libertarians believe that individual rights accrue equally to people regardless of where they were born and that governments' sole legitimate mandate is to secure those rights.

    A great many conservatives apparently believe in prohibiting the travel, residence, and employment of peaceable people.

  • ||

    Libertarians believe that individual rights accrue equally to people regardless of where they were born and that governments' sole legitimate mandate is to secure those rights.

    Philosophically, I agree.

    How do you reconcile that position with the welfare that exists in the US? Should we pony up the dough to feed, clothe, house, medicate, and educate every person on the planet?

  • ||

    Welfare is not a right: it is an entitlement. The US has no obligation to supply welfare to every person on the planet.

    To avert the next question, the US also has no obligation to secure the rights of every person on the planet. The US's only obligation to individuals outside its dominion is not to abrogate those rights.

  • ||

    MikeP, I agree.

    My problem with immigration, legal and otherwise, is that I don't want to pay the bills associated with it, and there is no way to avoid those bills under our current laws, and there is absolutely no prospect of changing those entitlement laws. Increased immigration of the huddled masses costs a lot of money.

  • ||

    I believe the fix to that is to disqualify all immigrants -- legal and illegal -- from receiving targeted welfare. Emergency health care and primary schooling is okay because those are universally offered and there are semi-respectable public goods arguments for them. Everything else is off the table.

    And to bring this back to the specific original article, this goes for citizen children of immigrants too. They get targeted welfare only on the schedule of their parents.

    After spending no less than 10 and no more than 18 years in the US, sure, let citizen children of immigrants have welfare. Adjust the numbers as needed to make sure that welfare is never a draw for immigration.

    Of course, to make this all fair, they shouldn't have to pay taxes designated for targeted welfare either.

    Citizens would be standing in line to get such a good deal.

  • ||

    MP, have you looked at the costs for medical care and schooling?

  • ||

    Yes. Uncompensated medical care is a trifle: $40 billion per year on all uncompensated care -- immigrant and native, emergency and clinic. There is a problem in that uncompensated care gets concentrated into poor communities. That can be handled by better federal reimbursement.

    In any event, current mechanisms of care for the uninsured are far, far cheaper than any government attempts to correct that problem have proven to be.

    Schooling is another issue. There are two major components to consider here. One is that the expenses we see are from crappy public schools that cost at least twice what they should, so we see massively inflated costs. The second is that education is considered an investment in the adults of tomorrow. The big problem with immigrants would be if they got their diplomas and then went home.

    But if education isn't worth the public investment for immigrants, then surely it's not worth the public investment for natives either.

  • ||

    But if education isn't worth the public investment for immigrants, then surely it's not worth the public investment for natives either.

    Maybe so. Personally, I would like to see a universal voucher system for schooling, but it ain't gonna happen, at least not in my lifetime. That leaves us still picking up the tab for education, citizen or not.

  • ||

    I completely agree with this. I further feel that if we were to abolish government-provided "entitlements," most, if not all of the problems now blamed on "illegal" immigrants would evaporate. Ending the Drug War would take care of the lion's share of residual issues. What would remain would be 1) culture clashes; and 2) competition for jobs and other resources. Clearly #2 -- based on some American's beliefs that someone owes them a job and a living just for being citizens -- is the fundamental fuel for the controversy, with the tinderbox kindling being xenophobia that is triggered or aggravated by #1.

  • Contrarian P||

    I disagree. The problem here isn't citizenship at all. It's a crappy and outdated immigration system. Stopping babies from becoming U.S. citizens won't make several million illegal aliens give up and start paying income tax or Social Security. Only reforming a nonsensical system might provide incentive for people to be more open. Well that and reforming the tax structure to a consumption tax, meaning that anyone, regardless of legal status, would be paying. I believe citizenship by being born here is a good idea. I'm just against interpreting the amendment in a manner clearly not in line with what was intended by those who wrote it.

  • BeltwayLurker||

    which held that persons of African descent could never be U.S. citizens

    I never knew that free Blacks were never considered citizens. Only unemancipated slaves. Learn something new every day.

  • Mister Paleo||

    BLOOD AND SOIL!!! BLOOD AND SOIL!!!

  • ||

    What a load of bull. I have lived in minority heavy cities, and a particularly minority heavy state. Let me tell you something. I see day to day reasons your article is a complete load.

  • G Mc||

    Did you read the article?

  • ||

    Root says: "Those immigrants aren’t coming here to have babies and they aren’t coming here to abuse social services."

    This addresses McConnell and Boehner's argument against birthright citizenship, but their argument isn't the right one.

    They claim that illegal immigrants come here to have babies. While that does happen to some extent, Root is right when he points out that it isn't primary reason people immigrate. (The primary reason being jobs.)

    Once here, though, they have children, and those children are automatically citizens. They're disproportionately poor, meaning a large number of them qualify for all the assistance that's available to any other poor U.S. citizen.

    I agree with Root that the illegal immigrant population isn't as big a concern as McConnell, Boehner, etc. make it out to be. That said, I feel like ending birthright citizenship might still have some benefit. The U.S. is somewhat of an outlier in this respect compared to other first-world countries.

  • ||

    Red Herrings are all over this story and thread.
    This debate would be different if illegal Mexicans were to favor Republicans and kept to their original conservative home country values. Alas....the left turns them into wards of the state and perpetual Democrat voters.

    Bottom line....If they come here and vote Republican there would be a wall on our boarder that would rival the Great Wall Of China and citizenship clauses that would rival Mexico and France within one election cycle. The constitution this ...the constitution that......PLEASE.

  • Tony||

    Yeah illegal mexicans are supposed to overlook the direct incendiary racial hatred being directed at them by the GOP and vote for them because they're pretend Christians.

  • ||

    One example of this "direct incendiary racial hatred".....please.

    You put me into the uncomfortable position of defending the GOP.

  • Tony||

    "Anchor babies."

  • Tony||

    Which is curiously similar to the things I used to hear from my conservative relatives about blacks... how they pop children out to receive more welfare.

    For some reason blacks and mexicans don't treat birth as the agonizing and joyous miracle that the rest of us do.

  • ||

    So your conservative relatives run the GOP and their views are a basis of some kind of national policy?

    Or are you saying conservatives in general as the GOP and not the Republican party politicians in office?

    Either way, I live near Detroit. You want to see direct incendiary racial hatred?

    I can drop you off in most areas of that city and if you are white, you will be dead in less than 5 hours.

    Spare me your self righteous anecdotes about racial intolerance.

  • Ring||

    Tony, as usual for the left, you seeing everything through the prism of racism.

    I'm sure you and the dems are just pleased as punch that you get to throw the race card down and brand people racists for ideas that have nothing to do with race, but just happens to do with people of color. Again, you guys just can't help seeing the color of peoples skin can you?

    There's no wall on the Canadian border because there isn't a legal immigration issue moron.

    Secondly, this is not some hate filled rhetoric reserved only for minorities. In the UK there was plenty of bitching about the immigration of white Europeans from countries joining the EU who could move over to the UK and draw on the welfare system. Nothing to do with race unless you are looking for some way to cast the opposition as racist, a favorite tactic of the left.

  • Tony||

    Ring,

    The problem is, there isn't really an immigration crisis in this country. There are problems with our immigration system, yes, but compared to the economic, environmental, and a half a dozen other crises I can think of, it's just not that big of a deal.

    So why the fuss? Because the GOP has its base up in a frothy rage over what the Mexicans are doing to our country. They don't even seem to notice that we have 10% unemployment and there are no jobs for illegal immigrants to come snatch... It's all election-year fearmongering and it sure as fuck has to do with race because it always does.

  • ||

    Yeah Tony, that is why Democrats love Cubans so much.

  • MWG||

    "This debate would be different if illegal Mexicans were to favor Republicans and kept to their original conservative home country values."

    Not in the eyes of a libertarian.

  • ||

    Just how many libertarians can fit on a pedestal?

  • MWG||

    Irrelevant. As a libertarian, my argument for greater immigration will remain the same regardless of which political party will 'benefits' from it.

  • ||

    Another perfect example of libertarian "principled" craziness. Who needs roads and sidewalks? We can just privatize them and make people pay tolls every 1 mile and half block, respectively. Police? Just eliminate it and have people all pay their own private police force. Oh, wait, that fits in with the illegal-immigrant-amnesty-anchor-baby idea perfectly! MS13 and Al-Qaeda perfectly! After a few decades of illegal immigration, they'll probably be running much of the country just as the latter in North Paris, France forces women to wear burkas.

    Insanity. And all because libertarians are made up of PC white-guilt half liberals who hate the idea of big government but still secretly hope for a way to get to live in a cheap apartment care of the government and smoke weed.

  • Old Mexican||

    PolishKnight,

    After a few decades of illegal immigration, they'll probably be running much of the country just as the latter in North Paris, France forces women to wear burkas.

    You are not looking at the big picture: A country overrun by great looking, tan colored women:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJePLXwot6U

  • ||

    The good looking tan colored women aren't skittering across the border. The primitivized remnants of Aztecs and Maya are. Poorly educated peasants. Do we need more underskilled, illiterate people? No.

  • ||

    Hahahaha! I'm reminded of when Europeans came to L.A. thinking it would look like Baywatch and South American soap operas with (ethnic) Spaniards in the major roles. They were... surprised.

    This white guilt religion is hilarious. The shakers were more grounded in reality...

  • ||

    "Who needs roads and sidewalks? We can just privatize them and make people pay tolls every 1 mile and half block, respectively."

    In an unincorporated area of my county, where I once lived, the homeowners co-operated and pitched in to pave their own street. (By the time I got there, they were RE-paving the street, but the principle is the same.) There was no city government to do it and the County either wouldn't do it, or wouldn't get around to it quickly enough to suit the homeowners (or would charge them for the privilege of having government workers do the paving). The homeowners didn't charge anyone to use the street. It was paved to the extent that they needed to use it themselves.

    End of story.

    If you want to get around faster and more directly than surface streets that are paved or maintained in this way, either a private, for-profit company can build you an appropriate (super-) highway and charge you a toll to use it, or the government can, raising taxes and charging fees in perpetuity for construction and maintenance, to provide the appearance of "free" access to all. I'm going to say that the privately established and operated toll freeway doesn't sound that bad at all. It seems to me that only reason to prefer the government-provided solution is because you were trained from infancy to believe that government must be responsible for roads.

  • ||

    Oh, almost forgot: In the city where I currently reside, which DOES have responsibility for local surface streets within its boundaries, property owners are still expected to turn over some of their property for sidewalks AND pay for sidewalk construction. I am told that this is a widespread practice among municipalities.

  • ||

    Agreed. But that doesn't address my main point which is that to be truly "private", the local homeowner should be allowed to charge tolls and that this is a laughable joke even on a Reason.com cartoon (that's where I got it.)

    "I'd love to be a libertarian but... I like roads!"

  • ||

    James, that's not the end of the story. The so-called privatized sidewalk you describe was built by what sounds like a "homeowners association" and they are getting a reputation as being worse than any public government and taking away homes for a mere $50 failed payment 30 days late.

    In Northern Virginia, we do have a private toll road that was built and then sold off in a windfall to be blown on commie stuff by the current administration. Now the company wants to immediately jack up the fees, which isn't surprising, so that commuters will pay $20 round trip. It's basically a perpetual transfer scheme from NoVA to Australia with a short term payoff to the politicians. It's classical robber-baron and corrupt politics in bed with each other. I'm sure lots of campaign donations are involved...

    All that said, and I think this is sacrilege here, I think the government shouldn't be paying for JUST roads. I think it should fund public transportation. I have to give commie Europe, including Eastern Europe, credit for a system where I can have a drink, get on a speedy system, and be at a friends' home in the suburbs for bedtime. The people all look healthier. A private based "public" transportation here has stuttered for, well, unPC reasons. Let's just say MLK's dream hasn't worked out. Sorry to harm people's precious sentiments and sacred cows by pointing out reality like that.

  • slayer of beer||

    There's a huge difference between allowing a group of people that lived in the US for generations to get easy access to citizenship (particularly considering they had no other citizenship) and letting children of foreign parents who may or may not stay in the states to have that citizenship.

    Minors shouldn't have their own permanent citizenship, they should just have the citizenship of their guardians. If the US needed to kick out the parents, it's not like it would force the kids to stay here and put them in an orphanage (one would hope). The US would bundle them up with their parents and send them away. In practice, their "citizenship" is a sham. Putting them under the umbrella of their guardians' citizenship would be more honestly acknowledging they way they should be treated.

  • ||

    You only need to look at some comments up the thread to find out what happens to "anchor babies" when their parents are deported.

    You are in general correct. Their citizenship is never an issue if they don't choose to return to the US and exercise it.

  • JoshINHB||

    False,

    The anchor babies anchor their parents to government welfare, not residency.

    As citizens the babies get SS numbers which makes them eligible for food stamps and other welfare programns.

  • ||

    That's only if the children stay in the US. If the parents are apprehended by ICE, they will be deported. The "anchor baby" is irrelevant to that.

    Unless the parents have friends or family prepared to keep the child in the US the child will go with them.

    I'm not aware of any government program that pays welfare benefits to people not living in the US. If anyone can furnish an example I will stand corrected.

    While it's true that you can collect Social Security retirement benefits as a non-resident, you aren't eligible for medicare.

    I realize that Mexicans start working early in life but I think it's highly unlikely that a person sent home with his deportee parents is going to have enough work credits to be eligible.

  • ||

    This is one of the insincere arguments used by illegal immigrant supporters: That the CHILL-dren will come to harm if their parents are deported and they refuse to take their kid with them.

    This is similar to someone refusing to exit a restaurant after saying they won't pay for dinner and claiming: "Well, we'll abandon our kid here and you'll have to take care of it. What's the matter!?!? You think KIDS should suffer!?!?"

    Chill-dren have been transformed by the welfare state and feminism into chattel worse than any previous era including the works of Dickens.

  • ||

    People have the power to travel. I reject the idea that the government has the right to tell me where to go or where not to go. Open borders are a fundamental human right. There can, however, be reasonable restrictions on citizenship - for example 18 years of residency in order to vote.

  • TypicalConservative||

    But, but, but... national sovereignty! Governmental property rights!

  • MJ||

    If it's a "fundamental" human right it's one that virtually no nation recognizes. Practically, a person has no right to stay in a country that they are not a citizen of.

  • ||

    It was recognized by the US prior to 1882. Did it suddenly disappear?

    Today the fundamental human right to consume whatever substances you want to is also recognized by virtually no nation. Does it not exist? Or did it exist before 1914, when the US stopped recognizing it, and then disappear?

  • MJ||

    At that time the US may have had few restrictions on immigration as a matter of policy, I don't think that the US did that because they were respecting foreigners rights to enter the country at will.

    I think thoughout US history they government was capable of deporting any "undesirable" foreign national. At what point in history did anyone seriously argue that such was a violation of a fundamental human right>

  • ||

    I think that most who prefer open borders would concur that demonstrably undesirable foreign nationals should be deportable.

    Exceeding a quota, however, doesn't make one demonstrably undesirable. And that represents the majority of deportations today and virtually all the deportations under a strict enforcement regime.

  • ||

    qwints states:

    Open borders are a fundamental human right.

    MikeP concurs, then states:

    I think that most who prefer open borders would concur that demonstrably undesirable foreign nationals should be deportable.

    If open borders are a "fundamental human right", then under what authority would a country be acting to deport "undesirable foreign nationals"?

  • ||

    If liberty is a fundamental human right, under what authority would a country be acting to put people in prison? Or not allow them to carry guns? Or quarantine them if they are ill?

    The point is that in each of these the government must individually prove that the specific person being limited is a threat to the public. So should it also be in abrogating his rights by prohibiting his migration or by deporting him.

  • ||

    So it's okay to abrogate these 'fundamental human rights' of open borders if the State says so(and deciding that someone is a 'threat to the public' is exactly the same as just saying so--you've just cooked up a reason).

    So, then, you're not actually in favor of open borders and do not actually believe that they are a fundamental human right.

  • ||

    It is okay to handle an individual, individually, by proving that that individual is a threat to the public, with the opportunity to appeal that decision.

    Considering that that is 98% of the way from where the US is today to letting that individual just walk across the border, I would call that open borders. Considering that that is much the same process used to abrogate US citizens' fundamental human rights, I would call it as good as it gets in government's securing of fundamental human rights.

  • David||

    Only inasmuch as anyone who believes that there is a valid use for prisons is not in favor of human liberty.

  • ||


    If liberty is a fundamental human right, under what authority would a country be acting to put people in prison? Or not allow them to carry guns? Or quarantine them if they are ill?

    Exactly..."under what authority". In order for an entity called a "country" to exist, there must necessarily be something that qualifies it as being a "country".

    What is that something?


    The point is that in each of these the government must individually prove that the specific person being limited is a threat to the public. So should it also be in abrogating his rights by prohibiting his migration or by deporting him.

    But what bestows upon that "government" the power to do anything to anyone?

    Furthermore, if said govt has the authority to remove a non-native person - whom, according to you, is really just a "citizen of the world", free to move about as they please - then what prevents said govt from removing anyone from it's borders that it considers to be a "threat to the public", native or not?

  • ||

    What bestows upon any government the authority to do anything to anyone is plain old might makes right.

    What bestows upon any government the legitimate authority to do anything to anyone is if the thing they are doing is securing inalienable individual rights rather than abrogating them.

  • ||


    What bestows upon any government the legitimate authority to do anything to anyone is if the thing they are doing is securing inalienable individual rights rather than abrogating them.

    So then any govt - say, the US govt - has a "legitimate authority" to secure the "inalienable individual rights" of human beings? Whether they be citizens of said govt's country or not, correct?

  • ||

    As I noted above, the US has no obligation to secure the rights of every person on the planet. The US's only obligation to individuals outside its dominion is not to abrogate those rights.

  • ||


    As I noted above, the US has no obligation to secure the rights of every person on the planet. The US's only obligation to individuals outside its dominion is not to abrogate those rights.

    If a human being has the inalienable right to simply "roam if they want to", then that means that international borders - and therefore, the countries that are defined by those borders - are meaningless abstractions. And if countries are meaningless abstractions, then the govts of these illusory countries are also meaningless abstractions...as are the laws that said govts enforce...as are their penal codes.

    So again I ask: how is it that your statement "demonstrably undesirable foreign nationals should be deportable" carries any logical validity in accordance with your views?

  • ||

    If a human being has the inalienable right to simply "roam if they want to", then that means that international borders - and therefore, the countries that are defined by those borders - are meaningless abstractions.

    No it doesn't.

    A country's borders define the extent of its dominion. It is the point up to which that country exercises sovereignty and beyond which another country or no country exercises sovereignty.

    The fact that an individual has the preexisting inalienable right to cross these borders in his travels is completely orthogonal to the fact that those borders exist and that he is crossing from one dominion to another.

    Similarly, the fact that a country has the power to prevent an individual's entering its dominion does not in any way entail that it must or even that it should.

  • ||


    Similarly, the fact that a country has the power to prevent an individual's entering its dominion does not in any way entail that it must or even that it should.

    An "inalienable right" means exactly that - inalienable. An individual who has an inalienable right to go whever he wants to go, must necessarily then have an inalienable right to be wherever he want to be...regardless of others thoughts or preferences on the matter. As such, how do you reconcile this with your statement that "demonstrably undesirable foreign nationals should be deportable"? On what grounds can you deport someone who - according to you - has an inalienable right to be wherever they want to be?

  • ||

    On the same grounds that I believe government can imprison or quarantine someone who -- according to me -- has an inalienable right to be wherever they want to be: He is proven through due process to be a threat to the inalienable individual rights of everyone else.

  • ||

    Can you do me a favor, Qwints? I've always want to know what Area51 looks like. Could you walk on there, take some pictures, and post them on reason.com? I'm sure it will REALLY up the hit count!!! :-)

  • IceTrey||

    Sorry Reason you are completely wrong on this one.

    "It is clear the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment had no intention of freely giving away American citizenship to just anyone simply because they may have been born on American soil, something our courts have wrongfully assumed. But what exactly did "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" mean to the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment? Again, we are fortunate to have on record the highest authority to tell us, Sen. Lyman Trumbull, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, author of the Thirteenth Amendment, and the one who inserted the phrase:

    The provision is, that 'all persons born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens.' That means 'subject to the complete jurisdiction thereof.' What do we mean by 'complete jurisdiction thereof?' Not owing allegiance to anybody else. That is what it means."

    http://www.14thamendment.us/ar.....ality.html

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Wayne,

    Agreed. What minorities are being scape-goated?

    Why, these:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNZtLSncE88

  • Ring||

    So this goes one of two ways...

    a) The kid stays in country and is a drain on the welfare and school system, thus proving the point, or

    b) The kids and parents go home and the kid can't come back till they are 21, therefore, there it will have no effect for at least 20 years if at all.

    I'm sure the tax payer will be footing the bill for all these babies born in this country, so they are already a drain, incentivized by citizenship.

  • camel cig||

    Do not belittle migrant workers, it is precisely because of them, your life will facilitate a lot.

  • camel lover||

    Legitimate visa is good against illegal illegal

  • BG||

    You need to read the law again. “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.”
    The person has to be subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. The question is: are illegals subject to the jurisdiction of the United State? I don't think so.
    We need to have a national discussion, as the House Republican Leader has suggested. Let us concentrate on the law, what it says and what it's meant to say, not on how you feel about the matter.

  • ||

    If illegal aliens are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States then, like diplomats, the US government has no jurisdiction to prosecute them for any crime. The only remedy it can seek is to deport them.

    Is that the trade-off you want?

  • ||

    This is an absurdly bad analogy.

    Any person, regardless of their nationality, is subject to the laws of the country in which they find themselves. Diplomatic immunity is an EXCEPTION that has been agreed upon and recognized by nation-states in order to allow for better diplomatic relations; moreover, in the event of serious crimes (i.e. manslaughter, murder, etc), exceptions can - and are - made.

    Finally, and most importantly, diplomats to the US are here legally. Border jumpers are not.

  • ||

    Then they are subject to the jurisdiction of...

    No exception has been carved out for aliens legal or otherwise like the one for diplomats and some other foreign government representatives.

    Subject to the laws of...subject to the jurisdiction of...'splain to me the difference, Lucy.

  • IceTrey||

    "Subject to the jurisdiction of" means subject to the COMPLETE jurisdiction of. In other words they do not owe allegiance to any other government. The 14th actually became moot when the last slave died since anyone who would qualify to be a 14th citizen is also a natural born citizen. That is born in the US to two US citizen parents.

  • MWG||

    So slaves brought over from Africa would not have qualified for US citizenship. Is that how you read the amendment?

  • ||


    So slaves brought over from Africa would not have qualified for US citizenship. Is that how you read the amendment?

    Before the 14 Amendment, no. And neither would their offspring, regardless of how many years or generations had passed. And it was precisely that injustice that the 14th Amendment was intended to correct - particularly the language regarding "subject to the jurisdiction of".

    Former slaves could not be considered "subject to the jurisdiction of" any other nation because there was no way to establish which nation would have borne that jurisdiction; therefore, they and their offspring would necessarily have to be considered American citizens.

    Furthermore, the "subject to the jurisdiction of" clause is the reason that at the time of the ratification of the the 14th amendment, it didn't necessarily grant Native Americans citizenship. If they were considered to be "subject to the jurisdiction of" one of the sovereign Indian nations, they were not considered US citizens.

    So, a black child born in the US to US-born former slaves was considered a citizen; however, a Native American child born in the US to US-born Native American parents wasn't necessarily considered a US citizen. Why? Because one could be shown to be "subject to the jurisdiction of" another sovereign power or "nation" while the other couldn't be.

    Now which set of circumstances more closely resembles a modern example of a child being born in the US to Mexican nationals?

  • ||

    That is born in the US to two US citizen parents.

    You can repeat this bullshit til the cows come home.

    Mental meanderings in philosophy books do not have force of law.

  • ||


    Subject to the laws of...subject to the jurisdiction of...'splain to me the difference, Lucy.

    If you're a German citizen living in US and you kill someone, you can be arrested, tried, and imprisoned for murder; thus, you are "subject to the laws" of the US; however, that same German citizen has the right to contact the German Embassy in the US. Why? Because since they are a German citizen, they are "subject to the jurisdiction" of Germany. If the US authorities deprive said German citizen of this right, that German citizen will have a good case for having any conviction overturned on appeal.

    Clear enough or do you need more assistance understanding the obvious?

  • ||

    Convoluted and very wrong logic. Like you showed below.

  • ||

    Convoluted and very wrong logic. Like you showed below.

    Then it will be easy for you to refute.

    Please...proceed.

  • ||

    The reason that LE is supposed to contact the consulate (not the embassy, they are not the same, they do completely different things) is not because of jurisdiction issues it is because of the protection that citizenship is supposed to accord you.

    The US has a treaty with a number of foreign governments to afford this protection to foreign nationals by notifying consuls so that they can arrange for defense and other support to the arrestee.

    Technically the US government will do the same for its citizens.

    If the US authorities deprive said German citizen of this right, that German citizen will have a good case for having any conviction overturned on appeal.

    Tell that to the German guy in Texas that was executed a few years ago. Tell the Supreme Court that rejected his appeal on those grounds.

  • MJ||

    Among the provisions “which I cannot approve,” Johnson wrote, was the first section, which stated, “All persons born in the United States, and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed, are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States.”

    That law that Jackson vetoed would have excluded from citizenship the children of any resident aliens. I believe that's what "subject to a foreign power" means. Arguably, the language of the 14th amendment is worded for people who are permanent residents of the US but not considered full citizens. The extensions to aliens is just a overly broad interpretation of the language.

  • ||

    Illegal immigration, in other words, “is primarily a function of too many foreigners chasing too few visas.”

    This is patently absurd!

    Illegal immigration is primarily a function of the oldest calculation in the book: risk vs. reward. You have low risk (i.e., POROUS BORDERS with WEAK LEGAL CONSEQUENCES) coupled with high rewards (i.e., HIGH PAY compared to their home country). Alter either of those calculations and you will fundamentally alter illegal immigration.

  • ||

    Fabulous logic, I'm convinced.

  • ||

    Fabulous logic, I'm convinced.

    Says the idiot who puts forth nothing but an ad hominem attack as a refutation.

  • ||

    Insults and ad hominem attacks are not the same thing.

  • ||

    I insulted you, I did not make an ad hominem attack.

  • ||

    Hey Mr. Root try some of these on and see how your argument looks in them;

    Sec 1992 US Revised Statutes of 1866 defines "subject to the jursidiction thereof" as meaning "NOT OWING ALLEGIANCE TO ANY OTHER."

    This is what the authors of the amendment were referring to when they wrote it.

    Jacob Howard....."Every person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States. This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons. It settles the great question of citizenship and removes all doubt as to what persons are or are not citizens of the United States. This has long been a great desideratum in the jurisprudence and legislation of this country."

    Rep. John Bingham of Ohio 1866 "[I]find no fault with the introductory clase [S61 Bill] which is simply declaratory of what is written in the Constitution, that every human being born within the jurisdiction of the United States of PARENTS NOT OWING ALLEGIANCE TO ANY FOREIGN SOVEREIGNTY is, in the language of your Constitution itself, a natural born citizen." (NOTE plural parents)

  • ||

    Forgot this...In 1889, the Wong Kim Ark Supreme Court case once again, in a ruling based strictly on the 14th Amendment, concluded that the status of the parents was crucial in determining the citizenship of the child. The current misinterpretation of the 14th Amendment is based in part upon the presumption that the Wong Kim Ark ruling encompassed illegal aliens. In fact, it did not address the children of illegal aliens and non-immigrant aliens, but rather determined an allegiance for legal immigrant parents based on the meaning of the word domicil(e). Since it is inconceivable that illegal alien parents could have a legal domicile in the United States, the ruling clearly did not extend birthright citizenship to children of illegal alien parents. Indeed, the ruling strengthened the original intent of the 14th Amendment.

  • ||

    Isn't the most natural reading of Howard's statement that "who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the government of the United States" is a qualifier on "foreigners"?

    That is, those foreigners who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the government of the United States are exactly the people excluded from citizenship at birth. Every other class of person, including every other class of foreigner, is included.

  • ||

    "if your concern is that some immigrants are receiving more in public benefits than they pay in taxes, you should keep in mind that so do 67 percent of Americans"

    Does this seem like a logical argument to anyone? Because our current tax code is a piece of shit we should just hand out free money to everyone?

    I'm all for open borders, but this article blows.

  • Mike B||

    I have done work for a school system's (yes they're fucked up and spend money at a frightful rate) federal programs. One thing I have noticed is that there is almost no illegal immigrants taking advantage of tutoring services, free lunch, etc. being offered by the feds. I can only surmise that as illegals they wish to remain under the documentation radar.

    That doesn't sound like someone coming into this country to live in munificent welfare luxury. And the truth is most of the illegals (or at least non-english speakers) I have come into contact with were MEN. Unless certain aspects of life as explained to me by my father were incorrect, I don't think they came here to have kids.

  • BG||

    I understand where Root and the editors of Reason are coming from in this article. Reason and the Libertarian point of view has always been for "open borders," to a fault. You see the idea of open borders is fine if we had a pure capitalist or laissez-faire economy here, but we do not. Our socialist government gives an inordinate amount of assistance to illegals through tax payer dollars(We have a gun to our head). Also, with all the Islamo hatred out there, we have a need for security. Remember, our national security is one of the few things our federal government has a legitimate obligation to provide and therefore tax us for.
    Yes, after being a loyal Reason reader for over 20 years, I am a libertarian too. But I've seen the magazine change it's strips over the last decade.
    It is much more important to be an economic libertarian than a social libertarian. With economic freedom comes the rest of it naturally.

  • LifeStrategies||

    Economically, the tea party seems to have some good ideas. Just imagine - limited government, right to bear arms, economic freedom... I wonder where on earth they ever got those peculiar ideas from? (sarcasm)

  • Jen||

    The real problem with this article is that I now have a crappy Bruce Springstein song stuck in my head. Fuck you, Springstein.

  • ||

    In some States, a greater portion of the citizens pay for their own childbirth, but illegals just show up, receive care, have no money to pay, and get subsidized care. That's the issue.

  • Woozle||

    American citizenship is a club of sorts and Americans can certainly collectively decide who gets to be a member of this exclusive club. It's not even a 'free movement of labor' issue at this moment (an issue that libertarians here seem split about).

    The possibility that acceptance rules might be changed by members of an exclusive club can in no way be interpreted through the libertarian prism - no matter which way it goes. It's a private decision by a private club.

    So what is the point of this article?

  • ||

    The 14th Amendment was approved before we had immigration laws and therefore before we had illegal immigrants.

    There is no rational justification to grant citizenship to someone born her of parents who in the US illegally. Clearly that was not the intent of the 14th Amendment.

  • ||

    An amendment to the US Immigration and Nationality Act will suffice to deprive the children born here of illegals of birthright citizenship. There's no need to amend the Fourteenth Amendment for now. That will only be necessary if the courts overturn Congress.

  • ||

    Whatever it would take, amendment or a law fine-tuning the definition of "jurisdiction thereof", this is simply one way of dampening the ardor of some to illegally immigrate to the U.S.

    Mr. Root can couch this issue however he pleases, but the entire reason for stepping across the border and dropping out a child is to make it nearly impossible to deport the parents. Surely the "supply" of America's kindness in not separating families drives the "demand" for delivering anchor babies.

    As for how much or how little of public assistance funds are used by these individuals, there is the larger question of how much it takes to educate and give medical care to these folks. Welfare programs don't generally take those costs into account and neither does this article.

    Take a good look at California. While the profligacy of the Assembly on all kinds of public expenditures and greedy tax grabs are to blame for the bulk of the economic mess, there is also the issue of hordes of illegal immigrants stretching the budgets of schools and hospitals. Even if those illegal immigrants are mostly here for work-again a claim not supported by evidence in this piece-they don't have health insurance and surely couldn't afford to pay for care out-of-pocket considering the meager wages illegals gain from their employers' scofflaw ways and their own law-breaking.

    So maybe the answer is to make workplace enforcement and penalty so severe as to make only the bravest of employers hire illegals. Of course, I am sure there is some libertarian nonsense about the "liberty" of the employers to hire whom they please and to not have to observe wage laws.

    While I am a conservative, I do appreciate some libertarian sentiments, but when it comes to this issue, I just don't. This is supposed to be a nation of laws.

    Being a nation of laws, we have a federal Constitution. And the 14th Amendment was ratified to answer the problem of the status of former African slaves. Most of the slaves were descendants of slaves. As slaves, they were not brought to this country voluntarily. People treated as chattel by an evil feudal system like slavery should not viewed through the same prism as people stealing across the border of their own free will, and in contravention of our laws, to gain employment, public benefits or whatever.

    To speak of jurisdiction in this case, the slaves no longer knew their home countries and tribal affiliations. Illegal immigrants can be seen protesting and flying the flag of another nation in our streets.

    To speak of jurisdiction in the case of the illegal immigrant delivering an anchor baby, one can argue that the child was conceived under another country's jurisdiction usually between two citizens of that same non-U.S. jurisdiction. As an illegal immigrant pregnant with a child, would the mother be subject to Mexican laws on abortion or the laws of the U.S.?

    Eventually this country has to make a stand for something. Gaining control of our borders and enforcing our immigration laws is a start. We simply can't afford to take every child and their parents from anywhere in the world into our country. We don't have unlimited resources. A little "reason" would go a long way in making things better.

    The right needs to stop demagoguing this issue, even if it does score some short-erm political gains. The left needs to knock it off with all the racism and profiling talk. Elements in both parties have reasons to want to maintain this broken system. Republican business interests who want a steady supply of cheap labor that won't insist on too many of the protections afforded laborers by our laws. Democrats want a large and poorly educated voting bloc to depend on for the next several decades.

    Amnesty will seem like the dream come true for illegal immigrants, but it will probably turn into a nightmare. Once the illegal immigrant is afforded the rights of any American worker, they become instantly less employable. Many don't speak English and don't think they should have to. By the thinking of the left, it would be racist to compel them to learn the language. Once there is a huge and unemployable mass of people who are not equipped with language and other basic skills, the nation will have a foreign-born underclass that is largely dependent on government assistance and will reliably vote for Democrats, who will keep them in that dependent state.

    In addition to dependence, there will be feelings of helplessness and resentment at the larger culture. Stopping the flow of new illegal immigrants and disincentivizing the impulse by any means at our disposal is needed and sounds like good public policy to me. To assert that our laws should reflect the "right" of any woman anywhere in the world the to cross over our borders and give birth-to guarantee that both she and the child will never have to leave-seems ludicrous.

    Legal immigration is another matter. This country, like all nations, will almost always be enriched by immigrants. We are a nation of immigrants after all. But all those Irish, Poles, Italians, Hungarians, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Jewish immigrants during the last century came here legally and didn't expect that it was their "right." It was a privilege and honor to come here and be free to build a better life.

    My family's immigrant past isn't far in the past and I have heard plenty of stories and appreciate the strength and patriotism of those who came before me and made me American. In the days of the great waves of immigration we actually had an immigration policy and strategy. I have no idea what the mishmash we have now is suppose to be. Rational it is not.

  • ||

    In the days of the great waves of immigration we actually had an immigration policy and strategy.

    Yes. And that policy was: Allow anyone who wants to immigrate immigrate.

    ...a policy we generally look back upon with pride, except for the shameful exceptions -- e.g., for Chinese and Japanese immigrants.

  • DesigNate||

    And surprise, surprise, those were racist too. (I am by no means calling you a racist, but the entire history of the country's attempts to keep people out has been about race).

  • ||

    Hahahahahaha!

    So the opposition to Polish immigration in the late 19th century was based upon... racism? Actually, it was.

    Indeed, I educated crude PC race thinkers that it wasn't only possible for whites to be racist against non-whites, but also against other whites as well. And there's plenty of racism between Asians as well.

    This "racism", though, is intertwined with nationalism and ethnicity. Nationalism was even said to be as bad a word as racism at the end of WWI because it was blamed for a war that caused millions of deaths (they just had to wait until the socialist inspired wars of WWII to see what REAL killing is like! But so many people continued to like socialism that they overlooked it.)

    Do you like "Chinese" food? That's partly due to "racism" or nationalism and ethnic cultures expressing their unique identity through the cooking. Same thing with architecture.

    Liberals love to prattle on about how they hate "malls" and mass consumption where everything is just dumped together but that's the consequence of a "diverse" "melting pot". Then they go on vacation to Western Europe (in one of the nice sections) or to China and blow money as tourists to get away from their own agenda. Oh, before coming home to a white suburb or gated community.

  • Marian Kechlibar||

    Those days, even Swedes were considered non-civilized and not-enough-white. Not to mention the Irish.

    Somehow, American liberals of today can't grasp the fact that many awful hatreds flourish within race groups.

    Italians hate Albanians with passion, Croats and Serbs are not much better, the same goes for Israelis and Arabs, and in all three mentioned cases the mutually hostile ethnicities are so close that they actually share some portions of their native vocabularies and their typical phenotypes just can't be distinguished on sight. (While you can definitely distinguish a Norse from, say, a Kurd).

    And I would like to make a reply to one of the above commenters who said that Europe has worse problems than America integrating immigrants, and blamed it on the immigration rules here.

    I say: that is your fantasy, sir. Europe can and does integrate almost anybody who is willing to integrate, from Hindus through Sikhs and Kalmyks to educated Persians. Note that current French president is half-Hungarian, quarter-Greek and quarter-Jew - and France is one of the more nationalist countries of the continent.

    The trouble is one specific subset of the immigrants, namely those from tribal hellholes in the Middle East and Northern Africa. Not only are they mentally enslaved by their own backward primitive culture (which, quite often, contains female genital mutilation), but also by the fact that they consider this culture and its values so superior to the extant Euro culture that they are quite frequently willing to actually kill their own children for "shaming the family honor", if said children try to adopt Western lifestyle.

    This kind of supremacist primitivism (or primitive supremacism?) is a serious problem, with which the Americans do not have any real experience (the closest is probably Sicilian mafia). So, obviously, many Americans tend to see "racism" instead.

    Again, Bull-Sh... It is not racist whites who try to kill Ayaan Hirsi Ali or Salman Rushdie!

  • Kyle||

    I got a statistic for you guys, 100% of open borders advocates lie.

    92% of illegals are working, FFS that is nothing more then saved/created jobs stat, totally unmeasurable.

    Anyways all these are bunch of lies, the US literally is filled with places for illegals to come and give birth, theres even one hotel in New York that specifically does it for Muslims.

  • ||

    Can't say for sure if the notion of changing the law is good or bad, but it should b e remembered it was written when the USA was pretty much a vast, empty land. The feeling then was that we needed citizens, lots of them and quickly, in order to 'take & hold' the land.
    But times change.
    In a way the same situation applies to the 'right to bear arms'. That was written before we had machine guns and RPGs. So the seemingly airtight 'right to bear arms' has been abridged big time. Certainly most liberals would like it completely stricken from the Constitution, or at the very least re-interpreted to mean that you have only the right to join the Army, not personally own a gun.

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    See what a political science professor said about birthrights. www.morpix.biz/imprimis

    Imprimis is a free publication of Hillsdale College

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    Without that over priced burden on the taxpayers, both the property and the sales taxes could be virtually eliminated.

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    The trouble is one specific subset of the immigrants, namely those from tribal hellholes in the Middle East and Northern Africa. Not only are they mentally enslaved by their own backward primitive culture (which, quite often, contains female genital mutilation), but also by the fact that they consider this culture and its values so superior to the extant Euro culture that they are quite frequently willing to actually kill their own children for "shaming the family honor", if said children try to adopt Western lifestyle.

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    In a way the same situation applies to the 'right to bear arms'. That was written before we had machine guns and RPGs. So the seemingly airtight 'right to bear arms' has been abridged big time. Certainly most liberals would like it completely stricken from the Constitution, or at the very least re-interpreted to mean that you have only the right to join the Army, not personally own a gun.

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