Many progressives celebrated President Obama’s recent executive action that will halt the deportation of millions living in this country illegally, but the celebration may prove short-lived. Though polls show that Americans of color are elated by the move, with 64 percent of Hispanics surveyed supporting it, the same cannot be said for white Americans. According to Gallup, 62 percent of them disapprove, along with a slim majority of all Americans (51 percent to be exact.) But the numbers that may prove even more telling as immigration moves center stage ahead of the 2016 election are these: Poll results published this summer found that more Americans favor decreasing immigration than increasing it.
So if progressives are serious about finding a permanent solution to the immigration crisis that will generate bipartisan support, here’s a radical proposal. How about anyone who is already here illegally, who has not broken any laws, and registers by a certain date can stay, but going forward we all agree that if you are born to parents here illegally, you can’t, and neither can they. That’s right. I’m proposing that in the interest of protecting those already here illegally from the bureaucratic nightmare and moral quagmire of deportation we agree not to allow future populations to take advantage of birthright citizenship to allow entire families to sidestep our immigration laws.
Despite the fact that American allies Ireland and New Zealand repealed birthright citizenship within the last decade, in America mere discussion of doing so is usually dismissed as some kind of laughable (or worse) extremism. That is likely to soon change.
Earlier this year the Center for American Progress crowed about declining support for legislative efforts to repeal birthright citizenship, citing a smaller number of co-sponsors for Rep. Steve King’s (R-IA) 2013 bill in comparison to previous iterations. The language in King’s bill is similar to the language New Zealand used to amend its citizenship requirements in 2005. Under the new requirements, simply being born on U.S. soil would no longer be enough. At least one parent would have to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. King’s bill would also make exceptions for military service.
Yet King and others are likely to find new support for such measures thanks to a surprising source: the President. Those most likely to benefit from the President’s executive action are parents here illegally whose children were born here, and are therefore American citizens. With this move the White House unintentionally bolstered a long-standing conservative argument: that there are those here illegally for whom having children is not merely an emotional choice but a tactical one. Have a kid here –what some pejoratively refer to as an “anchor baby” – and it is tougher to be deported. Thanks to President Obama we now know this to be 100 percent true. [More]