Just four days later, the LAT published four letters in response to its editorial, including mine, under the astonishingly superb title: Birthright citizenship: a reward for breaking immigration law. (Note that there was no question mark at the title's end! Perhaps an onslaught of letters opposing the editorial engendered second thoughts among LAT editors?) And the first two letters were from us opponents.
I think all four letters merit comment, so here they are, intact and in order:
Letter 1Mr. Tonty's suggestion that we expeditiously deport these families for the benefit of their children in assimilating to their parents' societies strikes me as a new and interesting argument.
The Times fails to point out the fundamental reason for the 14th Amendment's birthright citizenship provision, which was to allow the children of slaves born in America to become citizens. It has nothing to do with illegal immigrants. ("The 'birthright citizenship' debate," Editorial, Oct. 26)
Now we are faced with the dilemma created by our broad interpretation of the 14th Amendment. Separating children from parents, if the children are young, is obviously not a choice. While sending all to the parents' native country can be difficult for the children, allowing both parents and children to stay rewards the parents for violating immigration law and encourages others to do the same.
The solution is to increase our efforts to protect our borders, stop rewarding the children of illegal immigrants with citizenship and remove those families here illegally as quickly as possible to ease their children's transition to life in their parents' native countries.
Don Tonty, Los Angeles
Letter 2My letter was less on-point than Mr. Tonty's, but I'm happy it's in print just for its mini-lecture slapping down the bad penny "argument" that the U.S. is a "nation of immigrants."
Your editorial on birthright citizenship goes off the rails in many directions, including with the weary trope that America is "a nation of immigrants." Even after four decades of renewed mass immigration, 87% of us are native-born citizens, thus not "immigrants" in any sense.
Surely members of the editorial board know this, so maybe they meant that America was founded by immigrants. But that's wrong, too: The U.S. was created by settlers (colonists), while immigrants are those who move to a polity that's already a going concern.
It's true that America has seen a lot of immigration, but that isn't central to the country's attractive character, which is dominated by the Anglo-Protestant culture of those settlers, as Harvard's Samuel Huntington showed.
Regarding the children of illegal immigrants, Investor's Business Daily had it right in 2005: "Becoming a U.S. citizen should require more than your mother successfully sneaking past the U.S. Border Patrol."
Paul Nachman, Bozeman, Mont.
I'd been tempted to simply quote former National Review Editor John O'Sullivan'ssuperb dismissal of "nation of immigrants," but I figured the Times wouldn't run a letter that mostly quoted someone else. For the benefit of VDARE.com readers, here is O'Sullivan's gem, from his review of Samuel Huntington's book Who Are We?:
Huntington punctures several comforting national myths dear to both liberals and conservatives but false and sometimes destructive in their current implications. He points out, for instance, that the U.S. is not “a nation of immigrants.” It is a nation that was founded by settlers—who are very different from immigrants in that they establish a new polity rather than arrive in an existing one—and that has been occupied since by the descendants of those settlers and of immigrants who came later but who assimilated into the American nation. Americans therefore are under no moral obligation to accept anyone who wishes to immigrate on the spurious grounds that everyone is essentially an immigrant. Americans own America, so to speak, and may admit or refuse entry to outsiders on whatever grounds they think fit.
Who Are We?American Conservative, July 19, 2004
Letter 3Besides the meandering silliness of Mr. Vasquez's letter, there's its Hispanic persecution complex about being "targeted" by increases in border security. I write "Hispanic persecution complex" because it brings to mind a wonderfully-revealing statement by Gerardo Sandoval, then a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, in a San Francisco Chronicle op-ed
The idea of the great American dream is spreading all over the world — and people are surprised that foreigners want to come here? Really?
Immigrants do not come here to just "drop" an anchor baby, as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) claimed in 2010. That Graham's naive statement is even still considered a valid argument upsets me.
The fact that children are now under attack in the immigration battle is pathetic. The solution proposed to further increase border security really disheartens me because it seems only Latinos, once again, are being targeted.
Immigrants come here to pursue prosperity through actual hard work and dedication. Yet there are citizens who can work but sit back and collect welfare — and they too have babies.
Eduardo Vasquez, Los Angeles
Democrats need to be clear that the $6 billion border fence now under construction is not just a wasteful boondoggle, but an affront to all Latinos.So according to both Sandoval and letter-writer Vasquez, U.S. sovereignty and concomitant law enforcement are generically offensive to Latinos—a claim for which there is substantial other evidence, including this.
Democrats must push immigration reform, November 17, 2006
Letter 4The notion that the Statue of Liberty (actual title: "Liberty Enlightening the World") invites newcomers to America is probably second in frequency only to "nation of immigrants" among the ceaselessly-peddled lies about U.S. immigration.
If the people of the U.S. truly want to repel immigration, then they should tear down the Statue of Liberty, since they do not agree with the poem by Emma Lazarus. The selfish people who want to deny children of any heritage citizenship should remember that child might be the next Einstein, Steve Jobs or Grace Hopper.
Call me disgusted by the citizens against progress.
Sharon Dugan, Laguna Beach
I think the best single-dose antidote to this scourge is a July 5, 2009 op-ed in the Washington Post titled She Was Never About Those Huddled Masses, by Roberto Suro. Besides being a succinct and well-argued historical review, the piece has the attraction that its author, now a professor at the University of Southern California and director there of the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute, was the founding director of the Pew Hispanic Center. Altogether, then, it seems unlikely that Suro will be dismissed as a racist xenophobe for pointing out that the famed statue has nothing to do with immigration (but you can’t be sure).
So what's my overall point here? Serious VDARE.com readers are deeply knowledgeable about immigration. They need to be regularly writing Letters to the Editor to educate and inspire our confused, uninformed, and distracted fellow citizens in this long slog to save our country.
If you're a bit "tongue-tied" when it comes to actually setting pixels to display, you can always plagiarize in this critical cause.
Paul Nachman [email him] is a retired physicist and immigration sanity activist in Bozeman, MT.