Liberals should take care not to feign too much outrage against those who question birthright citizenship. The meaning of the citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment – if one stops for a moment to think about it – did not, when it was ratified in 1868, absolutely, unambiguously, and unconditionally allow birthright citizenship.
This thoughtful and valuable discussion notes
...the fifth and final section of the 14th Amendment, a single sentence, says "The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article”… Where, exactly, is the legal precedent for asserting a constitutional right to unambiguous, unconditional birthright citizenship? The onus of the argument is upon those who assert such a right. And the fact remains that such case has never been brought to the Supreme Court.
An all-too rare positive essay from the house-trained Right appeared on Powerline: Time For A Real Debate On Citizenship Posted by Paul August 15 2010
As a matter of principle, it is difficult for me to understand why illegal immigrants should profit from their illegal conduct by gaining the enormous benefits associated with the grant of citizenship to their offspring. And, as a pragmatic matter, continuing to confer citizenship on the massive number of children born to illegal immigrants could profoundly alter the nature of our citizenry.
Assuming (questionably) that there is a need for a constitutional amendment to fix this issue Paul goes on
...there is little that is more basic to what constitutes a nation than the character, skills, values, patriotism, and cohesion of its citizens. Thus, the issue of who automatically becomes a citizen strikes me as precisely the kind of issue that might properly be addressed by constitutional amendment…
...amnesty can be accomplished with the stroke the pen…A stroke of pen can also change the rules on birthright citizenship. The road to that stroke would be most arduous, but at least the effort would hold the promise of something real at the end.
(Peter Brimelow has previously praised Powerline's Paul here.)
The distinctly unhousetrained Immigration Watch International wades straight into what has unsurprisingly emerged as a systematic phenomenon in this discussion:
I usually agree with Jeff Jacoby but his argument below is largely ad hominem and does not well represent the view that he opposes. So let me in passing say why I think his argument is so poor on this occasion: He is Jewish and Jews have an understandable horror of closed borders after the closed borders of the 1930s prevented so many of them escaping from Hitler. So I can be ad hominem too!
Birthright citizenship for children of illegals by jonjayray august 16 2010
Having defied Taboo #1, IWI cheerfully breaks another Biggie:
…the evidence is in as far as Hispanic illegals are concerned. Far from their children merging into the American mainstream, as the children of all previous immigrants have done, their children have a rate of criminality which exceeds even that of their parents, which in turn lies in between the white and the black crime rate…Jacoby must live in a very pleasant neighborhood to regard Hispanic criminality as ”enrichment”.
Most of what has appeared on the issue at NRO has of course been the usual Neocon-courting rubbish. John Derbyshire has once again demonstrated that he is the only voice over there worth listening to:
There’s a kind of glum satisfaction you get when an issue you’ve been interested in for years makes it to the headlines… When you tell people about the birthright citizenship business they are surprised, and often very angry...
Birthright citizenship is an obviously lousy idea – other countries have been revoking it at a fair clip this past few years – but given the ambiguity of the 14th, and a legal environment patrolled by leftist fanatics like Susan Bolton and Vaughn Walker, a Constitutional amendment probably is necessary.
Birthright Citizenship NRO August 10 2010
VDARE.com would consider Derbyshire too defeatist in his judgment of the potential of this controversy. Furthermore he uncharacteristically fails to deal with an important aspect — the political utility of denying the children of illegals the vote — what we call the Swiss solution. But given the Police State mentality governing National Review, this is probably the best he felt he could get away with. And he does get off an important Parthian shot:
This is one of those issues, though, where policy wonks, who’ve been kicking it around for years, may have trouble in correctly gauging the feelings of the general public, most of whom just heard of it. When Katie Couric speaks in tones of mild reproof about anchor babies, something is happening.