Reason Writers Around Town: Shikha Dalmia on Progressives Who Favor Repealing Birthright Citizenship

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) wants to deny birthright citizenship to kids of undocumented aliens because otherwise, he believes, Al Qaeda moms will sneak into the U.S., have American babies, and then send them back in 20 years to “destroy our lifestyle.” Gohmert might be missing a marble or two. But some progressive libertarians are joining his crusade against birthright citizenship not to protect America, but to help poor immigrants. They claim that delinking the right to work and live in America from citizenship will make Americans more accepting of guest workers if they don't have to pay for these workers' welfare benefits.

In her latest column for The Daily, Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia examines their case and notes that while this swap is well intentioned, it won’t ultimately “help foreign workers as much as it might corrupt us.”

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    They claim that delinking the right to work and live in America from citizenship will make Americans more accepting of guest workers if they don't have to pay for these workers' welfare benefits.

    There's another way around that (which never seems to make it on the progressive list of available options).

  • IceTrey||

    There's no reason to repeal birthright citizenship of non-resident aliens since the 14th doesn't grant it to them in the first place. People THINK it does, but they and you are wrong.

    http://federalistblog.us/2007/.....ction.html

  • pmains||

    If John Bingham had meant to include, "of parents not owing allegiance to any foreign sovereignty" in the 14th Amendment, then he missed his chance. Sorry. We don't allow the "oh, oh, I forgot to mention," defense in this country. We are a nation of laws and not men.

  • ||

    dont tell me what the law is - tell me who the judge is.

  • ||

    It would also help the argument if, sometime, anytime during the Congressional debates someone, anyone would have brought this up.

    Instead the only examples of births not covered by the 14th that show up in the debates are, lo and behold, foreign ambassadors and Indians.

  • IceTrey||

    He did include "of parents not owing allegiance to any foreign sovereignty", that's the very definition of "subject to the jurisdiction thereof". You're basically saying the man who wrote the amendment didn't know what it meant. Yes we are a nation of laws, but men write the laws and he who writes the law defines the law. When it is subsequently misinterpreted by other men it is necessary to rediscover it's original intent.

  • ||

    He did include "of parents not owing allegiance to any foreign sovereignty", that's the very definition of "subject to the jurisdiction thereof".

    Wow. That's pretty lame.

    Allegiance is something the individual offers the state. Jurisdiction is something the state imposes on the individual.

    I assure you, the state -- at least the United States -- does not ask for your allegiance before it subjects you to its jurisdiction.

    ...unless, of course, you are a foreign diplomat or, in 1870, an Indian governed by a sovereign tribe.

  • IceTrey||

    Allegiance is something the individual, who is born a citizen, OWES the state. For example, Obama owed allegiance to the United Kingdom and Colonies at his birth.

  • pmains||

    So, citizens owe allegiance to their country. Only those who have allegiance to their country are citizens. So, if we give the children of unauthorized immigrants citizenship, they will have allegiance to the United States. Wow, that was easy.

    Of course, allegiance is not a requirement for jurisdiction. Even if you flee the country and renounce your citizenship, you will not necessarily escape the IRS.

  • pmains||

    I do not know what he knew or did not know. He may have been a liar, a lunatic or a fool. He may have had regrets about the wording of the Amendment later in life. He may not have had the votes to pass the amendment he wanted. Who's to say? Not every scribbling he made on the subject for the rest of his life should be considered binding.

    What I do know is that the qualifications he apparently wanted to add to the 14th Amendment cannot logically be inferred from the text itself. The word jurisdiction simply does not have the meaning you imagine it to have. Webster disagrees with you. Law dictionaries disagree with you. All of this bizarre reasoning on your part is a desperate attempt to read your desired meaning into the 14th Amendment.

  • pmains||

    Furthermore, Elk v. Wilkins is an embarrassing rationalization of why we denied the Native Americans basic rights. The "exclusive jurisdiction" doctrine has no basis in the text of the 14th Amendment, and therefore lacks legitimacy. If we were to take it seriously, then children of mixed parentage would also be denied citizenship.

    All of this nonsense is meant to provide a fig-leaf for "constitutional" conservatives who oh-so-desperately want to believe that the 14th Amendment doesn't mean what it says. Pathetic.

  • MJ||

    "They claim that delinking the right to work and live in America from citizenship will make Americans more accepting of guest workers if they don't have to pay for these workers' welfare benefits."

    Is there any nation in the world that does not link a right to work and live in that nation to citizenship? That a person alien to that nation can only live there as a revocable privilege. While birthright citizenship is in the Constitution, very few people in the world would defend it as an inalienable human right.

  • ||

    Is there any nation in the world that does not link a right to work and live in that nation to citizenship?

    Probably not and can be even more complicated.

    My kids are real world examples. One born in Florida, the other Scotland, w/Scot mum. They both have both equally vaid UK & US birth certificates, though only US passports.

    If my kids enter the UK under their US passports, then they must seek UK work permits to legally work. If they entered using the UK passports they both could get, then they would not need work permits.

  • ||

    I'm in the same boat as your kids. My dad was from Glasgow, my mother from the US.

    My father never desired to apply for US citizenship, and was content to live in the states on his green card. This was in part to his strong sense of nationalism, along with knowing that he planned to eventually move back to Glasgow, which he eventually did.

    I see no reason why a guest worker visa and a path to citizenship need to go hand in hand. Just because a person chooses to come to the states, and advance their economic condition, does not mean that they also want to be a citizen. The same process to earn citizenship should be the same for everyone, regardless of how an individual person came to this country.

  • ||

    Your a Scot alright, Free2Booze ;-)

    My kid's mum (from Argyll), despite being the daughter of hard-core member of the SNP, is now a US citizen. She was not asked to give up her UK passport when she gained US citizenship.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    Some progressive libertarians? Well,one is all I can see. Will Wilkinsin is arguing for it, though he would couple it with allowing unlimited immigration for employment in the U.S. for citizens of Canada and Mexico, which I doubt will be popular in Arizona. And he also says we'll need a constitutional amendment, which is another way of saying that it's never going to happen.

  • How about||

    Kerry Howley?

  • ||

    Their is a middle ground to this issue. Birthright citizenship should be granted to any child, born in the United States, who's parents legally reside in the US.

    Someone living in the United States on a guest worker visa, would be considered a legal resident.

  • Bradley||

    They claim that delinking the right to work and live in America from citizenship will make Americans more accepting of guest workers if they don't have to pay for these workers' welfare benefits.

    Seems dubious. I mean, there's research showing that illegal immigrants contribute more to the economy through work than they consume via services. But that hasn't made a dent in the anti-immigration rhetoric painting them as parasites. So why would this?

  • 1980 Redux||

    IceTrey is correct; the 14th Amendment does not grant birthright citizenship. If a plurality of judges and legal scholars believe it does, then we need to amend the Constitution.

    It does not matter how much immigrants contribute to the economy, or how much they take in services. That is completely immaterial to the debate. They are criminals. They broke the law to get here. Criminals must be punished. Illegals should be persecuted and hounded at every step, everywhere they go, everywhere they try to work or live. And when cornered, they should be arrested and deported. We MUST not reward criminal behavior, or else anarchy will ensue, because if they are not enforced, then there is no point to having the laws.

  • MWG||

    Uh... you're wrong actually.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDo-ZVK4dc0

  • ||

    So it's safe to assume that you are not a fan of the free market?

  • pmains||

    I agree. Let's take this no-nonsense approach to law enforcement further.

    It does not matter how much jaywalkers contribute to the economy, or how much they take in services. That is completely immaterial to the debate. They are criminals. They broke the law to get here. Criminals must be punished. Jaywalkers should be persecuted and hounded at every step, everywhere they go, everywhere they try to work or live. And when cornered, they should be arrested and hanged by the neck until dead. We MUST not reward criminal behavior, or else anarchy will ensue, because if they are not enforced, then there is no point to having the laws.

    RAAR! I'm now scarier than you. Why do you support sanctuary cities for jaywalkers?

  • 1980 Redux||

    Except for your snark about hanging people, which I don't believe I ever advocated, the rest of your post is spot on. If I was arrested for jaywalking, I would have no right to complain, as I would be breaking the law, and thus deserving of whatever punishment I receive.

  • ||

    Boy, you sure wouldn't want you to be on the jury if you were a fugitive slave in 1850.

  • pmains||

    So you agree. We should hound jaywalkers to the ends of the earth. No cost-benefit analysis should factor in as we combat anarchy.

  • Gregory Smith||

    First of all, there's no such thing as a progressive libertarian. Progressive refers to the progressive movement of the 20th century which was basically punishing the rich, helping the poor, supporting the welfare state, etc, etc, etc.

    Secondly, the 14th amendment was created to deal with the CHILDREN of slaves, that was the intent.

    It was not intended for every Juan, Fritz and Hakeem to come here and breed baby Americans that would in turn reclaim their parents 18+ years later.

    Remember, until we live in a perfectly libertarian society with no welfare, no public schools, no free treatment of people in the emergency room, we can't afford illegal aliens!

    That's not racist, that's reality! I don't care if they're sexy Russian blonds, we're broke!

  • ||

    since the 14th will not be repealed nor court precendents supporting birthright citizenship, this is nothing more than foaming then fund-raising the wingnuts. SENT UR PATRIOTIC CONTRIBUTIONS NOW NOW NOW

  • ||

    "wants to deny birthright citizenship to kids of undocumented aliens "

    It's "illegal aliens" okay!
    Reason is the last place I expect to sucumb to political correctness(bullshit).
    Have some guts and balls for crying out loud.
    I donate to this organization expecting it to have a backbone.
    Now show it or get one.

  • ||

    Indeed, breaking immoral laws should be badge of pride.

    "Illegal alien" really puts the blame where it belongs -- on the law.

  • MJ||

    Reason has not succumbed to political correctness on this issue, they are actively promoting it because they favor the cause of such propaganda.

  • MWG||

    They are foreign nationals who are here without proper or current documentation, hence 'undocumented aliens'.

    It may be a term used because Reason favors 'the cause of such propaganda', but it is no more propaganda than the type of propaganda used by those who favor the term 'illegal immigrants', such as: they're taking our jobs, stealing our welfare, and raping our women.

    BOTH sides use propaganda. The difference is some are on the side of freedom of movement and association, whereas others are on the side of fear and nationalism.

  • MJ||

    "They are foreign nationals who are here without proper or current documentation, hence 'undocumented aliens'."

    The problem with that is that makes it sound like their presence without proper documentation is a mistake or oversight, rather than a deliberate choice on the alien's part. You may argue that a loose immigration policy is better, but no nation accepts that a foriegn national has a human right to take up residency in a country they are not a citizen of.

  • ||

    ...a deliberate choice on the alien's government's part...

    Fixed.

  • MJ||

    The alien chooses to be present without proper documentation, the government merely chooses not to grant them that documentation.

  • ||

    ...the government merely chooses not to grant them that documentation to abrogate their inalienable rights without compelling, specific, or individually applied reason.

  • MJ||

    Again, what inalienable right is being abrogated? Where in the world does any alien reside in a country they are not a citizen of, except on the sufferance of that country's government?

    You are asserting a right that exists nowhere in the world.

  • ||

    I take it that you don't...

    ...hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men...
  • MJ||

    I would like to make an argument supporting freedom of movement across national borders is a right, rather than just asserting that it is and disparaging those who do not with that unsupported assertion.

  • ||

    As Jefferson notes, your rights preexist and precede government. They are secured by government, not defined by it.

    Three of those rights are pretty self-evidently your rights to travel, reside, and work wherever you wish and can find agreeable terms. All of those rights are available to individuals when there is no government around. They are natural rights.

    Now a government comes by, claims a territory as its dominion, and denies your crossing its claimed border. The government is abrogating your preexisting inalienable rights.

  • ||

    While this is an interesting thought, and I could even agree with it in the abstract, there is not a single nation in the world where the "right to travel, reside and work wherever you wish" extends to entering a nation in violation of its laws.

    This right is self-evident to only you, MikeP. Sorry. If you want to try to persuade people of the correctness of your position, you'll have to do better than "it's self-evident to me".

  • MWG||

    The right to free movement is a right that exist independent of government. The exercise thereof, infringes on the rights of no one.

    The argument that "there is not a single nation in the world where the "right to travel, reside and work wherever you wish" extends to entering a nation in violation of its laws", is a statist argument similar to the 'might makes right' arguments we hear Tony make here on a regular basis.

  • ||

    If you want to try to persuade people of the correctness of your position, you'll have to do better than "it's self-evident to me".

    So that's why King George didn't capitulate to US independence!

  • MWG||

    "Again, what inalienable right is being abrogated?"

    I'm assuming based on this question that you agree that inalienable rights DO exist. Inalienable rights exist independent of government and they extend to all our property including our bodies. Inherent in this idea IS the right to free movement and association, regardless off whether or not the government INFRINGES upon that right.

    "You are asserting a right that exists nowhere in the world."

    Untrue. That right exists WITHIN the US, unless you've had to seek permission to move to a city or any one of the 50 states. It also exists between member states of the EU and in many other parts of the world as well.

    You are correct that, in many cases, between countries that right is infringed upon.

  • MJ||

    Yes, that right exists within the US as result of a treaty between the 50 sovereign member states of the USA. If the states had remained fully independent entities, or say, the Confederacy had been able to make their acts of succession stick, passports and visas would be required to move from one state to another (or one confederation of states to another). Furthermore, the confederation known as the USA does no recognize such as legal right for any but its own citizens and legal residents across it own internal borders, so you cannot claim the USA recognizes such as a human right.

  • MWG||

    "Yes, that right exists within the US as result of a treaty between the 50 sovereign member states of the USA."

    Natural rights exist independent of government. The fact that the US government stopped infringing on a natural right as a result of a treaty is irrelevant.

    "If the states had remained fully independent entities, or say, the Confederacy had been able to make their acts of succession stick, passports and visas would be required to move from one state to another (or one confederation of states to another)."

    Not necessarily. It was only until a few years ago that I could cross the border into Canada without presenting either a passport or a visa.

    "...so you cannot claim the USA recognizes such as a human right."

    I never did. I claimed the US government does not INFRINGE upon that right within the US.

    Again, you're confused about what constitutes a natural right. If the US government claimed, as many on the left would like to, that the right to healthcare is a human right, that would not make it so. It is not a natural right because one does not have the right to the labors of someone else (ie. doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, etc...). The same goes for education, housing, etc.

    The inalienable right to free movement is just that, because to exercise it infringes on the inalienable rights of NO ONE. Also, as I said before, it exists independent of government.

  • MWG||

    "...no nation accepts that a foriegn national has a human right to take up residency in a country they are not a citizen of."

    Which therefore makes it ok, right?

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not for 100% open immigration. The government should know who is here and keep out those who wish to do us harm (ie. violent criminals, terrorists, etc.), but just as we don't give up our right to free speech or to bare arms because of the potential for negative 'externalities', we also don't give up our rights to free movement and association because of the potential for abuse.

  • MJ||

    "Which therefore makes it ok, right?"

    Which therefore makes your claim that freedom of movement across national borders is a right a dubious assertion, one that even you do not fully support.

  • MWG||

    You argue that no government recognizes one's right to free movement. I'm asking you whether that, in and of itself, makes it just or correct that people can't reside where they wish.

    Do you have an argument as to why people should not have the natural right to free movement and association? B/c as of now, you argument is essentially 'might makes right' or 'the law is the law'.

  • MJ||

    My original point was that Reason was not knuckling under to PC sensibilities, but was using the "undocumented alien" phrasing as a deliberate choice in supporting their own policy preference.

  • MWG||

    ...as do those who use the term 'illegal alien'.

  • ||

    "illegal alien" is the language used in the US Code to refer to those aliens who are in the country in violation of the immigration laws. It isn't just someone's policy preference.

  • MWG||

    "It isn't just someone's policy preference."

    Bullshit. The vast majority of people who use the term have never read the 'US Code'.

  • ||

    Yep. The correct legal term in the US Code is "illegal alien". "Undocumented" is a nonsense word made up by those who advocate on behalf of illegal aliens.

    This is similar to gun control and gun ban advocates trying to repackage themselves as "gun safety" advocates, even though their notion of gun safety involves staying far away from guns and trying to ban them.

    Nevertheless, Reason (including Shikha Dalmia) has long tried to dishonestly conflate legal and illegal immigration, and so I am not holding my breath waiting for them to use any honest language.

  • MWG||

    "Undocumented" is a nonsense word made up by those who advocate on behalf of illegal aliens."

    No it's not. It's a real word that exists in the english language.

    http://www.merriam-webster.com.....documented

    There is nothing inherently wrong with using the term. Illegal aliens are here without proper documents. They are undocumented aliens.

    People who use the term illegal alien (I use the term and see nothing wrong with people who are here illegally) and are vehemently against 'illegal immigration' don't use the term because they've READ US Code. BOTH sides use the term they feel best represents their worldview.

    "Nevertheless, Reason (including Shikha Dalmia) has long tried to dishonestly conflate legal and illegal immigration, and so I am not holding my breath waiting for them to use any honest language."

    Bullshit. Unless you can name a single person who is anti-ILLEGAL immigrant while at the same time, is also in favor of greater LEGAL immigration.

  • Jim||

    The "freedom for me, but not for thee" crowd never ceases to amaze me. How anyone can try to justify preventing me from contracting with whomever I wish for whatever reason I wish (provided it doesn't infringe on anyone else) and still call themselves supporters of liberty, is a mystery.

  • MWG||

    It's what separates libertarians from the statist (both conservative and liberal).

  • ||

    I don't care if they're sexy Russian blonds

    I don't know, as long as the sexy Russian blonds are women, easy and like middle aged men, I can make a exception or two. Those Fritz(es) can stay the hell home.

  • DDavis||

    I don't think we should have a country with permanent second class humans without the same legal rights as citizens. Guest Workers = Disposable Human Widgets.

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