You know it's the dog days of summer when the MainStream Media permit debate on a sophisticated policy issue deeply affecting America's future. In this case, it's cheaters misappropriating the legal privileges of being an American.
What is commonly called “Birthright citizenship” is a legal loophole that has been discussed among patriotic immigration reformers for many years. But, given the extreme parochialism of our political elite, maybe the first time Senator Lindsey Graham (Scalawag-SC) heard of the issue really was independent-minded reporter Keith B. Richburg's July 18, 2010 Washington Post article For many pregnant Chinese, a U.S. passport remains a powerful lure.
Richburg described a Shanghai partnership that has charged 500 to 600 Chinese women $14,750 each to have their children born on American soil so they can later reap the benefits of being an American. Richburg observed:
“There are no solid figures, but dozens of firms advertise 'birth tourism' packages online, many of them based in Shanghai, and Zhao said the number has soared in the past five years.”
“U.S. officials confirm that it is not a crime to travel to the United States to give birth so that the child can have U.S. citizenship. 'You don't deny someone because you know they're going to the U.S. to have children,' said a U.S. Embassy spokesman in Beijing,
“Zhou and Chao insist that everything they do is legal, noting that the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1868, says anyone born on U.S. soil has the right to citizenship. 'We don't encourage moms to break the law — just to take advantage of it,' Zhou said.”
Richburg is an African-American, the author of the brave book Out of Africa: A Black Man Confronts Africa. I suspect he feels (quite correctly) that the 14th Amendment was passed in 1868 to overturn the Dred Scott decision and guarantee citizenship to his ancestors and their posterity, e.g., Keith Richburg—not to bestow the blessings of American nationality on foreign con artists. Thus Richburg noted:
“Some argue that the 14th Amendment—aimed at guaranteeing citizenship rights to freed black slaves—was never meant to provide an instant passport to the children of people who are in the country illegally or who travel there expressly to gain U.S. citizenship for their child.”
Now, you knew and I knew that the current interpretation that anybody born here gets American citizenship (no matter what other country they pledge allegiance to) is a scandal. But the MSM has seldom called attention to this long-running abuse.
For example, Richburg reported that Chinese taxpayers are getting increasingly enthusiastic about having their offspring fleece American taxpayers:
“In their pitch to prospective clients, Zhou and Chao point out that as a U.S. citizen, a child has access to free public education from primary school through high school and that a full education in the United States can be much cheaper than at the top Chinese private schools and universities.”
Something Richburg failed to mention, however, is that abuse of the current American citizenship regulations permits bizarrely self-recursive forms of chain migration. For example, the Chinese scion born on American soil can eventually grow up to import his own parents as immigrants under our “family reunification” law. They, in turn, can bring in their own parents and plunk them in public housing for seniors and put their health care on Medicare's tab. It's like a Confucian conman version of that old Robert Heinlein science fiction story, All You Zombies, about a man with a time machine who turns out to be his own grandpa.
The effect of the “Birthright Citizenship” loophole is immense. The Pew Hispanic Center issued a report on August 11, 2010, Unauthorized Immigrants and Their U.S.-Born Children, stating that illegal aliens' progeny comprised eight percent of all births in the U.S. in 2008. The way to put that into perspective is to think of it as a percentage of the entire population of 310 million. Thus, illegals in the US are having the same number of children as a group of 25 million Americans
Of course, the full effect is even worse than that because these immigrants are making the population grow beyond their own numbers. People cheat to get into the U.S. to have more children than they could afford to have in their own countries—far more than the replacement rate. The Pew Hispanic Center says:
“Data limitations do not allow for an analysis in this report comparing the fertility rates of the unauthorized with those of legal immigrants. However, the fertility patterns of other demographic groups are instructive. Overall, Hispanics who live in the U.S. have higher rates of fertility than do whites, blacks or Asians. And among Hispanics, the foreign born have higher rates of fertility than the native born (3.1 versus 2.3).”
And that likely understates the offspring-per-lifetime birthrate of illegal aliens. In contrast to the Pew number, demographer Hans P. Johnson of the Public Policy Institute of California pointed out in 2007 in Birth Rates in California:
“Fertility rates are higher in California than in any developed country in the world. This is partly due to the composition of the state's population, which includes large numbers of foreign-born women, who tend to have more children than U.S.-born women. Thus, in addition to its direct contribution to state growth, migration also plays an important indirect role in its effect on fertility rates. Among foreign-born Latinas, total fertility rates—a measure of completed family size—average 3.7 children per woman. In contrast, the state's lowest fertility rates are among U.S.-born Asians, who have an average of 1.4 children per woman.”
The low fertility rates for American-born women in California reflect in part the high cost of family formation (such as housing in an exclusive school district or private schooling) in a state crowded with illegal immigrants and their descendants.
And if the illegals were to get amnesty, their birthrate would go through the roof again—as it did after the 1986 amnesty, when the total fertility rate for foreign-born Latinas in California shot up from 3.2 in 1987 to an amazing 4.4 in 1991.
The cost of building hundreds of public schools for this Amnesty Baby Boom (and, now, their kids) has been a key, if unmentioned, factor in the breaking of California's budget. John Seiler reported last week that, when capital costs are included, the Los Angeles Unified School District spends almost $30,000 per student per year. [LAUSD spends $30K per student, CalWatchDog.com, August 20, 2010] For example, converting the old Ambassador Hotel on Wilshire Boulevard into a school is costing $578,000,000.
These are not, however, the sort of thing you are supposed to think about. Because when you do think about how you are being cheated, you don't like it. Human beings don't like being taken advantage of. We understand, deep down, that rewarding the dishonest just increases dishonesty.
The Democratic Party is devoted to the current iniquitous system for one simple reason: it generates more Democrats. In other words, private cheating helps Democrats win in public. It is crucial to point this out whenever discussing the issue. No matter how much they swaddle themselves in their self-anointed righteousness, Democrats do not have a principled stance on this question—just a self-interest in seeing deviousness thrive.
Democrats can't win a rational debate by defending the current system. It's indefensible. You'll notice that many of the more logical liberals, such as Kevin Drum and Matthew Yglesias, simply try to dismiss the entire subject out of hand: Why are Republicans even bothering to bring that up? They shouldn't waste their precious political capital on that!
That leads me to a few suggestions about terminology. As long as we can keep reminding the American public of the reality that they're being ripped off, we'll have the upper hand. Therefore, emphasize the dishonesty.
In contrast, be careful about using phrases full of positive-sounding words.
“Birthright citizenship” is a phrase loaded with good connotations. People tend to react well to the words “birth”, “right”, and “citizenship”. (Consider their antonyms—”death”, “wrong”. and “treason”.) The Boy Scouts award three merit badges with the word “citizenship” in the name. The Scouts emphasize the duties and obligations beholden in citizenship. That's what “citizenship” sounds like to the average patriotic American: doing right by your fellow Americans. They need to be reminded that, to the Zhous and Chaos of the world, it's just a sweet scam.
When you need a technical term for the current state of law, call it “jus soli“. That's Latin for “law of ground”. Nobody has a warm and fuzzy feeling about a couple of words they aren't sure how to pronounce. (It's pronounced yüs-s?-l?.)
Similarly, let's use “anchor offspring” rather than “anchor babies”. Babies are cute.
In contrast, we need to find an overgrown baby to make the poster child of nationality cheating.
For example, what about Major Nidal Malik Hasan—who in fact does look rather like an overgrown fetus? Although he murdered 13 Americans at Ft. Hood on November 5, 2009, he has yet to be tried. Indeed, he is still being issued his U.S. Army paychecks!
We know that Major Hasan was born in Virginia in 1970 to Palestinian immigrant parents. Were they legal or illegal immigrants? A little research shows that nobody seems to have bothered to ask this question. In modern America, it's considered insensitive to inquire about the background of a mass murderer.
Or how about Major Hasan's spiritual advisor, Anwar al-Awlaki? He also provided inspiration to the Christmas Day Underpants Bomber and three of the 9/11 hijackers. This al-Qaeda operative is a dual citizen of Yemen and the United States because he was born in New Mexico in 1971.
As these top-of-the-head examples show, it shouldn't be that hard to find an incredibly unsympathetic figure to exemplify the issue.
Is jus soli protected by the 14th Amendment, or could it be modified by legislation (as happened in Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand)? Nathaniel Parker argued in VDARE.com (on August 31, 2001!) that it should not require a Constitutional amendment to eliminate jus soli. (Weigh Anchor! Enforce the Citizenship Clause)
Now, I'm no legal expert, so I don't know whether the law could be changed through legislation or whether it would require a Constitutional amendment. Yet I don't see that it's all that important of a political strategy question. Why shouldn't both tracks be pursued simultaneously? (In fact, this is exactly what Congressman Ron Paul has advocated.)
In the 1970s, for example, Ruth Bader Ginsburg shamelessly argued both:
She was rewarded for talking out of both sides of her mouth with a seat on the Supreme Court.
A dual track attack on nationality cheating will keep generating news about cheating, which is all to the good.
Spending political capital to demonstrate how we are being conned just creates more political capital.