Babies and Immigration Reform
Not a single word in the 844-page "Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act" introduced by Senator Marco Rubio and the "Gang of Eight" addresses the controversial practice of "birthright citizenship."
Birthright citizenship is the common description given to the automatic grant of U.S. citizenship to babies born in the U.S. regardless of the citizenship status of the parents. Many experts agree with the verdict of law professor Lino Graglia -- that the practice generates "perhaps the greatest possible inducement to illegal entry."
The failure of Congress to confront the subject is nothing new. The "four pillars" of the reform framework floated by Senators Chuck Schumer and Lindsey Graham back in 2010 also avoided mention of the gaping "hole in the fence" created by the "magnet" of the birthright practice.
While Rubio touted the newest bipartisan proposal and appeared to "backtrack" on the border fence as illegals continue to climb over it, our government creates even more incentives for illegals to have children here. Besides potential ObamaCare benefits, many provisions in the Gang's new package increase the allure and impact of the birthright magnet.
Conservative columnist Ann Coulter penned a scathing analysis titled "If Rubio's Amnesty is So Great, Why is He Lying?" Near the end of her litany of damning facts and figures, Coulter wrote: "The children of illegal aliens become automatic citizens under our current insane interpretation of the 14th Amendment."
The insanity, however, goes beyond the "illegal" argument. Coulter noted statistics and dollars relating to the children of illegals; however, she didn't mention that the practice also awards citizenship to the babies of virtually anyone legally but temporarily present, including "birth tourists."
In a comprehensive analysis titled "American Jackpot: The Remaking of America by Birthright Citizenship," Mark Cromer quoted the politically incorrect phrase "well-documented in classic Chicano literature": "run, squat and drop." For birth tourists, the procedure is this: fly, stay in a "maternity hotel," and receive professional birthing assistance.
Under either circumstance, the babies are issued a birth certificate that entitles them to all the rewards of citizenship -- including welfare programs, "anchor baby" protections that deter deportation of the parent(s), chain migration incentives for the extended family, and, as Coulter noted, the right, 18 years later, to vote. In the famous 2004 case of terrorist Yaser Hamdi, born in Louisiana to Saudi parents temporarily here on work visas, "presumed" citizenship entitled Hamdi to habeas corpus rights.
Of course, one mother may arrive here by illegally crossing the border and the other legally with a passport or visa (or "guest worker" card) in hand -- but neither is a U.S. citizen. Both are subject to our laws, and although the border-jumper already broke one the instant she crossed over, neither she nor the woman with a passport is, according to many experts, "subject to the jurisdiction." That particular phrase in the Fourteenth Amendment immediately follows the one requiring birth in the United States, with both requirements in the same sentence and separated by the conjuctive "and" -- signifying that neither is redundant to the other.
The Supreme Court decision in Wong Kim Ark, relied upon by many to support the practice, addressed the citizenship of a son born to Chinese immigrants, legally domiciled here but precluded from obtaining U.S. citizenship under the amended terms of a treaty with China. According to the secretary of state at the time, the Chinese who settled in America were considered, by virtue of the treaty, to have transferred both their domicile and allegiance.
Could the same be said for birth tourists, other temporary residents, and illegals?
According to Dr. John Eastman, it was not until around 50 years ago that "popular perception" -- not a constitutional mandate, sweeping court decision, or executive order -- morphed into the "idea that mere birth on American soil alone ensured citizen status."
Eastman was an expert witness in the 2005 House Subcommittee on Immigration hearing "Dual Citizenship, Birthright Citizenship, and the Meaning of Sovereignty." (Then-Rep. Jeff Flake, now a senator and "Gang" member, served on that particular subcommittee at the time.) The conclusions reached at the hearing: no constitutional amendment or new statute is necessary, since "the existing one tracks the language of the Fourteenth Amendment," requiring only a "resolution," "Executive Order," "Solicitor General Opinion," "or other alternatives to underline what Congress' intent is."
Eight years later, it certainly seems that one of the Eight might have mentioned something, somewhere, in 844 pages of "reform" about an unmandated practice that increases the attractiveness of immigrating here illegally and costs taxpayers billions of dollars.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher's letter to Sen. Rubio noted the glaring absence of reform of the "loophole" in the proposal. In 2007, Edwin Meese listed "clarification" of birthright citizenship as an "essential" element of effective reform. In 2003, Judge Richard Posner opined that Congress "would not be flouting the Constitution if it ... put an end to the nonsense." Even Harry Reid, back in 1993, proposed a bill to curtail the practice he was against before he was for it.
But the flip-flopping Reid has the powerful Democrat-media complex behind him. According to Media Matters, for example, the term "anchor baby" is "an ugly, derogatory, mean-spirited, racist jab directed at children for the imagined 'crime' of being born in America to non-citizen parents." (The same piece, however, written a little less than a year ago, also used the recently declared verboten descriptor "illegal.")
It also doesn't help an already radioactive issue that a discussion of the citizen status of a child's parents might lead to the related question of presidential eligibility and "natural born" citizenship -- and use of the extremely effective silencer "birther." Neither does the fact that the GOP senator leading the Gang was born in Florida to two non-citizen parents who did not formalize their U.S. citizenship until they had been in the country nearly 20 years and their son was four years old. (According to the State Department, the Cuban government does not recognize the U.S. citizenship of children born in the U.S. to Cuban parents and may subject such individuals who enter Cuba to a "range of restrictions and obligations, including military service" -- which could result in an interesting predicament for a purported "natural born" Rubio should he ever travel there.)
A "global comparison" of birthright citizenship was included by John Feere in his report for the Center for Immigration Studies. Feere noted that the U.S. is one of very few countries allowing blanket birthright citizenship and far behind the wave of reform among countries of "advanced economies."
As we evaluate our national security in an age of global terrorism, the rights of citizenship and the fact that the birthright practice often results in dual citizenship must be considered. Stanley Renshon, author of The 50% American, has estimated that over 40 million Americans are dual citizens. The State Department rarely enforces its policies discouraging dual citizenship, although it continues to require renunciation of past citizenships in its naturalization oath. Birthright dual-citizens, however, are never formally required to swear to or reject anything. Our nation has adopted a sort of "don't ask, don't tell" policy, described in two thoughtful essays in which the author observed: "War is all about taking sides -- unless, of course, you can't because you belong on both sides."
The very idea of dual allegiance is considered "civic bigamy" by scholars such as Dr. John Fonte, who also authored another important study released just days before the Boston attack: "America's Patriotic Assimilation System is Broken."
Citizenship, as defined in 1875 by the Supreme Court, is membership in a political community -- to which is owed allegiance, and from which is owed protection. For the children of its citizens, the grant of citizenship is a fundamental right. For immigrants, the grant of citizenship is a gift, not an entitlement. As a sovereign nation, the U.S. has every right to determine the strings attached.
For both our national security and economic stability, immigration is a critical issue that must be addressed. Many concerned citizens, however, are asking for an immediate "reform" significantly different from the current proposal, and one that doesn't fill hundreds of complicated pages:
Enforce the laws we already have. Secure the border and build the fence. And repair the "insane" gaping loophole of automatic birthright citizenship.