The Treason Lobby is getting very nervous about the issue of birthright citizenship—the current interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment that gives U.S. citizenship to everyone born in the U.S., including the children of illegal aliens.
Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, who introduced the anti-illegal alien SB 1070, indicated he would like to introduce a bill to deny birthright citizenship on the state level. Legislation is already pending in Texas and Oklahoma plans on following suit as well. A number of U.S. Senate Candidates, including Rand Paul, are making birthright citizenship an issue during the campaign. A June 3 Rasmussen poll found that 58% of US voters opposed giving birthright citizenship to the children of illegal aliens while only 33% supported it.
In the past, the usual suspects just dismissed birthright citizenship as a fringe issue. But now they are getting worried there appears to be a concerted attempt to push back.
Recently, both the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune ran simultaneous Op Eds defending birthright citizenship—by Harvard Professor Edward Schumacher-Matos, an immigrant (formerly illegal) from Colombia; and libertarian Steve Chapman, respectively. Both appear to be getting their misinformation from the same talking points, as their columns were nearly identical. [Denying citizenship for illegal immigrants' children is a bad idea, by Edward Schumacher-Matos, Washington Post, June 27, 2010. Citizenship Should Remain a Birthright, by Steve Chapman, Chicago Tribune, June 27, 2010.]
As Americans wake up to the problem of birthright citizenship, we can expect to see these same falsehoods repeated over and over—just like the mindless mantras that infest the immigration enforcement debate, such as "you can't deport 12 million people" and "illegal immigrants are doing the jobs Americans won't do".
Myth 1: The term "Anchor Baby" is improper, because you cannot sponsor your parents until you are 21.
Chapman [Email him] writes:
"True, an undocumented adult can be sponsored for a resident visa by a citizen child—but not till the kid reaches age 21. To imagine that Mexicans are risking their lives crossing the border in 2010 to gain legal status in 2031 assumes they put an excessive weight on the distant future."
WW refutation: Given U.S. failure to enforce immigration law, it is not unreasonable for an illegal alien to assume that they can live here illegally for 21 years and then receive sponsorship from their US Citizen children.
Indeed, I could accuse Chapman of racism for assuming that Mexicans have short time horizons—Seattle Public Schools list having long time horizons as a form of "cultural racism".
However, it is not family sponsorship that makes the children of illegal aliens "anchor babies"—it's the fact that it then becomes incredibly difficult to remove their parents.
You need only look at the Treason lobby's own rhetoric about how enforcing our immigration laws is tearing families apart to see how birthright citizenship is used as a way to prevent enforcement against the illegal alien parents. President Obama was at it again in his recent immigration speech—he specifically said we cannot deport illegal aliens because
"it would tear at the very fabric of this nation—because immigrants who are here illegally are now intricately woven into that fabric. Many have children who are American citizens."
Of course family reunification can occur on both sides of the border. But the anchor baby provision is an enormous incentive for illegal aliens to stay here.
In fact, of course, propaganda aside, American immigration law specifically allows for exceptions in the case of "extreme hardship" caused by deportations.
Indeed, immigration lawyer Bruce Hake [Email him] has created the "The Hake Hardship Scale: A Quantitative System For Assessment Of Hardship In Immigration Cases Based On A Statistical Analysis Of AAO [USCIS Administrative Appeals Office] Decisions" for the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Hake assigned points to various "hardships" that an illegal alien could appeal on.
In general, a score of 10 would be successful. Hake gave five points for the first US citizen child, and another for each child thereafter. [The Hake Hardship Scale: A Quantitative System For Assessment Of Hardship In Immigration Cases Based On A Statistical Analysis Of AAO Decisions, by Bruce A. Hake and David L. Banks, Immigration & Nationality Law Handbook, 2004]
With enough creativity and a few dollars, an immigration lawyer can try to make even one anchor baby reason enough. To get an idea of how this works, the Forensic Psychology Group's website gives examples of different types of "expert testimony" they can provide at immigration hearings.
"In extreme and exceptional hardship cases, if one parent has to leave the United States, it can produce a separation anxiety disorder on the part of the child left behind. Some children, especially those who are very young and lack the emotional maturity to understand why a parent might have to leave the United States, might also develop a depressive disorder." [Immigration Law, Forensic Psychology Group.]
And if that child is also a US citizen, it becomes a pretty substantial anchor to prevent deportation.
Moreover, the same supporters of birthright citizenship are trying to make it even more difficult to deport illegal alien parents of anchor babies. Solomon Ortiz's (D-TX) Comprehensive Immigration Reform ASAP Act of 2009, which has over 100 co-sponsors, moves from "extreme hardship" exceptions to prohibiting the detention of illegal aliens who have children(any children, not just American citizen children)except in "exceptional circumstances." [H.R. 4321. Title I, Sec. 162]
Myth 2: Birthright citizenship does not encourage illegal immigration
"One study cited in Peter Brimelow's 1996 anti-immigration screed, Alien Nation, found that 15 percent of new Hispanic mothers whose babies were born in Southern California hospitals said they came over the border to give birth, with 25 percent of that group saying they did so to gain citizenship for the child. But this evidence actually contradicts the claim. It means that 96 percent of these women were not lured by the desire to have an 'anchor baby.'"
WW refutation: Once again, I could accuse Chapman of being "racist" for falsely assuming that every single Hispanic woman in Southern California is an illegal alien. Of illegal aliens, the number is necessarily much greater than 4%.
"Pregnant Mexican women from border towns do commonly cross just to have a baby in the United States. But their extended families have often straddled the border for a century or more. The women tend to be middle class, pre-pay the hospitals in cash and go home, though their children can someday return."
I do not see how Mexican citizens choosing to have their child born in the US, just so it will have to option to immigrate here in the future, is any less of reason to oppose birthright citizenship.
Schumacher-Matos [Email him] acknowledges that a "A handful of tourists do the same, but the total of all these is minuscule." As usual, there are no good statistics on just how many people come to the country to give birth, but we do know it's far from "miniscule". There is an entire "birth tourism" industry complete with hotels specifically for pregnant women to have US citizen children.
"Significant are the 4 million children in 2008 with one or more unauthorized immigrant parents spread throughout the country, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Repeated studies, however, show that their parents came for jobs or to join family. The children were normal byproducts of life, and not an immigration strategy."
But no one is arguing that birthright citizenship is the only reason why illegal aliens come here, or even why they stay. Nevertheless, when we have somewhere between 12 and 20 million illegal aliens living in our country, a few percentage points has a lot of consequences.
Myth 3: Birthright citizenship has repeatedly been upheld by the courts, and was the intention of the drafters of the 14th Amendment.
Chapman claims that ending birthright citizenship "overthrows two centuries of legislative intent and court rulings" Both he and Schumacher-Matos mention the Plyler vs. Doe case, forcing school districts to accept illegal alien children, as an example.
WW refutation: In fact, the Fourteenth Amendment is Reconstruction legislation and therefore less than 150 years old.
Plyler was a terrible decision. But it did not rule on the issue of birthright citizenship—merely on public education for illegal aliens. It did, as Chapman and Schumacher-Matos note, state that the illegal aliens fit under the Jurisdiction Clause of the 14th Amendment. But it is up to future Supreme Court justices to decide exactly how far they wish to take it.
Furthermore, the Supreme Court was much more liberal when it ruled in 5-4 in Plyler than it is today. Even Sandra Day O'Connor voted against the illegal aliens in that case.
Chapman also alludes to the 1898 case United States v. Wong Kim Ark. But this dealt with a legal permanent Chinese immigrant, not an illegal alien.
Schumacher-Matos goes back further to the actual debates over the Citizenship Clause:
"Go back… and read the transcripts of the 1866 debate in the Senate and you find that both those for and against the amendment readily acknowledged its application to illegal immigrants. A Pennsylvania senator [Edgar Cowan], for example, objected to granting citizenship to the children of aliens who regularly commit 'trespass' within the United States. The concern then was with babies of gypsy or Chinese parents.
"But Congress and the ratifying states opted instead to uphold a founding principle of the republic that was fundamental to the peaceful building of a multiethnic immigrant nation, however imperfectly. In a world plagued by bloody ethnic conflicts, that concern remains valid."
Here, Schumacher-Matos falsely implies that the Amendment passed over these objections. But in fact Cowan's objections were satisfied by Lyman Trumbull, of Illinois who was chairman of the Judiciary Committee at the time. He explained that the Citizenship Clause
"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."
"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 'subject to the jurisdiction of the United States?' Not owing allegiance to anybody else. That is what it means."
Keep in mind that Schumacher-Matos argues in the same column that it is perfectly unobjectionable for Mexicans who plan on staying in Mexico themselves to go across the border so that their children can have US Citizenship.
Senator Jacob Howard of Michigan who wrote the Citizenship Clause was even clearer stating the 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 persons." [Amicus Brief No. 03-6696, Hamdi vs. Rumsfeld, Center for American Unity]
Myth 4: Anchor Babies do not receive any additional welfare
Chapman writes: "Some of the main benefits available to undocumented foreigners, such as emergency room care and public education for children, don't require them to have a U.S. citizen child. Illegal immigrant parents are ineligible for welfare, Medicaid, food stamps and the like. They can be deported."
WW refutation: Chapman here debunks his own argument (as well as the libertarian cliché "Don't end immigration, end the welfare state!").
Of course, he is correct that the biggest fiscal drain caused by illegal aliens is education and hospital Emergency Rooms, which the courts have unfortunately made off limits. But this is an argument against further illegal immigration—because it overcrowds our schools and shuts down our hospitals—not an argument against birthright citizenship.
Nevertheless, although illegal aliens drain our economy through jails, hospitals and education, anchor babies can still further break our budgets in ways that illegal aliens cannot.
As Chapman notes, illegal aliens are barred from most federal means tested benefits under the 1996 Welfare Reforms.
However, their US citizen children are still eligible for these programs. And our welfare system is especially tilted to benefit those who are young and poor. Anchor babies ipso facto fit the former. According to the Pew Hispanic Center over 1/3 are living at or below the poverty level.
Additionally, the massive Obamacare overhaul specifically benefits anchor babies and their families. While illegal aliens are ostensibly ineligible for the "Affordability Credits", insurance is based on families. According to Pew Hispanic, there are 8.8 million people in "mixed families" with US citizen children and illegal alien parents. According to the Congressional Research Service,
"it appears that the Health Choices Commissioner would be responsible for determining how the credits would be administered in the case of mixed-status families." [Is the Congressional Research Service Making 'False Claims' Too? by Mark Kirkorian, Center for Immigration Studies, August 26, 2009]
Myth 5: Ending birthright citizenship would be difficult to implement.
According to Schumacher-Matos, "Abrogating birthright citizenship additionally would create practical chaos. All Americans would have to prove their citizenship. Birth certificates would no longer do. Yet we lack a national registry of who is a citizen."
WW refutation: This is perhaps the silliest objection of all. No one is calling for retroactively stripping anyone's citizenship, so birth certificates issued prior to the law would suffice as proof of citizenship. And it does not take much of an imagination to come up with a simple non-chaotic way for birth certificates to be issued after birthright citizenship is abolished. There could be a separate birth certificate issued to children of US citizens and Legal Permanent Residents; or there could just be a box that says "US Citizen" that could be checked on the Birth Certificate.
There is a danger that, if Obama is serious about pursuing "comprehensive immigration reform" as Peter Brimelow has suggested, the birthright citizenship debate might end up getting put on the backburner by the Patriotic Immigration Reform movement. It has succeeded in defeating two amnesties and it will want to defeat this one.
But the hard truth is that the Patriotic Immigration Reform movement has made little progress getting any proactive changes in policy.
Arizona's SB 1070 put the Treason Lobby in the corner. They are trying to fight back by throwing an amnesty back at us.
Instead of being content with stopping the amnesty again, we need to keep pushing forward with
more state laws;
a moratorium on immigration, and
abolition of birthright citizenship.
If we want to stop amnesty, and the destruction of the historic American nation, the best defense is a strong offense.
"Washington Watcher" [email him] is an anonymous source Inside The Beltway.