Rubio and Birthright Citizenship
Those conservatives who argue against "birthright citizenship" have just been thrown under the same bus as the "birthers" -- whether or not they like it, or the GOP admits it.
The mainstream media, longtime foes against reform of the anchor baby practice, have been happy to help. And instead of quietly watching while a sizeable portion of the Republican party is run over, as in the case of the "birthers," we now have the GOP establishment lending the media a hand in brushing aside many immigration reform advocates -- by pushing the selection of Senator Marco Rubio for the VP nomination.
"Birthers" have been insisting that not only is Obama not eligible as a "natural born" citizen, but neither is Rubio. Now the media is paying attention. And of course, the media says the "birthers" are wrong. According to Fox News's Bret Baier:
The law lists several categories of people who are considered American citizens at birth. There are the people born inside the United States; no question there[.] ... They're all natural born U.S. citizens[.] ... Senator Marco Rubio and Governor Bobby Jindal are both eligible to run and become Vice President or President.
Apparently Baier received a lot of feedback as soon as his column was published, because later the same day, he amended it:
Bottom line... this is obviously getting a lot of attention.. so, we think we should do a full piece on the show about it.. and maybe have a panel of constitutional scholars... and legal experts to discuss this. There is obviously a lot of confusion.. uncertainty and misinformation out there about this topic. And as I wrote in the blog.. there is vigorous legal debate about the term... so we need to talk about it... and we'll continue to report all sides [sic].
A needed admission, although still with no real authoritative sources listed.
What about all of the experts, conservative organizations, and Republicans who have argued for decades that more than birth on U.S. soil is required for citizenship?
The need to reform the birthright citizenship practice, considered by many an illegal immigration "magnet," was addressed in a 2010 American Thinker column quoting George Will, who in turn had cited Professor Lino Graglia -- all in support of the idea that the 14th amendment did not mandate an automatic grant of citizenship to every baby born here -- at the very least not those born to illegal aliens. The same year, American Thinker's J.R. Dunn noted the valid arguments against the anchor baby policy and observed the resulting negative media spin, "designed to make a topic so radioactive as to render it untouchable."
Up to that point, the media taboo seemed to be working. (It certainly did for the "birthers.") Even the GOP candidates steered clear of immigration reform as much as possible and avoided discussion of birthright citizenship, likely for fear of being called "racist."
Research into the subject reveals that the birthright issue concerns not only the legality of the parents' status, for even "birth tourists" are in the U.S. on legal passports. The root of the problem is the status of the parents' domicile (legal or illegal, permanent or temporary) and allegiance. The birthright practice also results in dual citizens who can remain so for life, unlike naturalized citizens, who are required to renounce past citizenships. Proposed legislation to require at least one citizen parent curtails the anchor baby problem but does not eliminate the dual citizenship issue.
"Birthers" argue that the dual citizenship of Obama disqualifies him from "natural born" eligibility. Another American Thinker column documented the lack of academia's serious attention to the interesting question.
Since 2008, the mainstream asserted that Obama was eligible for two reasons: he was born in Hawaii, and his mother was a citizen. Some argued that only U.S. birth was required, but hardly anyone (other than "birthers") noted the related fact that many conservatives had been lobbying for years to correct what they considered an incorrect application of the 14th -- that more than birth on U.S. soil is needed, not for natural born citizenship necessarily, but citizenship, period. And if arguments against birthright citizenship are legitimate -- why not the contention that questionable birthright citizenship, because of allegiance concerns, does not equal natural born citizenship? But a reasonable debate was never permitted, and the "birthers" were ridiculed as kooks.
Fast-forward to today, and the GOP's realization (thanks to those darned "birthers"!) that neither of VP favorite pick Rubio's parents were citizens when he was born.
So now the mainstream and GOP establishment argument is that born in the USA (regardless of circumstances) equals "born a citizen" equals "natural born" citizen.
Baier didn't mention the many conservatives who have long fought against the birthright practice, subtly helping the establishment kick them and their inconvenient assertions under the bus. Yet it was only eight years ago that Fox News noted the valid arguments in this article addressing the "presumed" (Justice Scalia's description) citizenship of Hamdi in the famous case of Hamdi v Rumsfeld.
Here's a partial list of prominent individuals who have argued against birthright citizenship: Judge Richard Posner, Edwin Meese, Professors Lino Graglia and Peter Schuck, Dr. Edward Erler, Dr. John Eastman, the Heritage Foundation, Representatives Ron Paul, Nathan Deal, Mark Foley, Gary Miller, and Tom Tancredo, and conservatives Ann Coulter, George Will, and Phyllis Schlafly. Rep. Lamar Smith, the current House Judiciary chairman, was a major participant in the 2005 congressional hearing on citizenship and also the signed the Center for American Unity Hamdi amicus brief in 2004 along with Tancredo. Even Harry Reid noted that more than birth in the U.S. is required for citizenship in his proposed 1993 legislation.
Baier's assertion places both Obama with his one citizen parent and Rubio with none on the same "natural born" bus -- and that bus ran over not just "birthers" (who actually have been lying under there for quite a while), but also all of the Republicans who have been working for curtailment of the "jackpot" birthright practice as part of effective immigration reform. Because now it can no longer be denied (which "birthers" have been arguing all along) that birthright citizenship and presidential natural born eligibility are inextricably related.
To be fair -- nothing much has been written about the status of Rubio's parents at his birth. WND published Rubio's father's naturalization papers (when Rubio was 4), but has it been determined whether Rubio's parents were here, prior to that, legally, and whether they traveled to and from Cuba? Why so many years to naturalize? Interesting questions all, and answers may alleviate some of the immigration reformist's concerns. But can they be discussed without fear of "birther" or "racist" labels?
The GOP wants to win on the "issues," but apparently minus the birthright citizenship issue. A Rubio ticket may appeal to Latino voters, but it may sap more of the enthusiasm of the conservative Tea Party base than the establishment realizes.
In the weeks ahead, we may see either the birthright citizenship opponents aligned with the "birthers" or all of them swept under the rug of verboten conversation -- because neither of their arguments fits the current establishment narrative.