Maybe you've heard about this. One of the more audacious efforts of the anti-immigration crowd with whom you've aligned yourself -- you know, Tom Tancredo, Nathan Deal, those folks -- has arrived in the form of legislation that would strip the children of illegal immigrants born in the United States of citizenship rights:
- [A] bill co-sponsored by Rep. Gary Miller, R-Brea, would deny citizenship to children born to undocumented immigrants in the United States, but opponents say the bill uses immigrants as a scapegoat for poorly developed policies.
"If you're coming here illegally, you shouldn't be benefiting from it," Miller said. "If I rob a bank, and left some money to my kids, should they be allowed to keep it?"
About 1 million people legally enter the United States from other countries each year, and an additional estimated 500,000 cross the border undocumented, according to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which supports the bill.
The 14th Amendment grants citizenship to individuals born in the United States, though the 1868 ratification of the amendment was intended to give citizenship to freed slaves, according to federation spokesman Ira Mehlman.
"It was intended to apply to a specific group of people -- it wasn't likely that people could travel thousands of miles to give birth to a child in a different country," Mehlman said.
The chief sponsor of the bill in Congress is actually Rep. Nathan Deal, R-Ga., who hails from a part of the country that is wrestling with old demons when it comes to the new wave of Latino immigrants.
California, where Miller hails from, is another such place. Miller, in fact, is rated the most conservative member of the California delegation, which is saying something. Meanwhile, Miller's own press release reiterates the hoary charge that the 14th Amendment was never meant to include these people:
- "More than 120 nations, including Germany, Japan and Italy, do not grant automatic citizenship to children born to illegal immigrants," said Miller. "The United States must wise up and join the rest of the industrialized world in acknowledging that caring for, educating and integrating unregulated waves of immigrants is not sustainable."
The 14th Amendment grants citizenship to individuals born in the United States, though the 1868 ratification of the amendment was intended to give citizenship to freed slaves. Miller argues the authors of the amendment would not approve of its current application.
There's no sign the legislation will actually succeed, and considering how radical it is in nature, it seems unlikely; but then, a couple of months ago, it seemed unlikely that Congress would meet in special session in an attempt to butt its nose into a family tragedy involving a brain-dead woman. So you never know.
Another of the obvious hurdles the bill will have to face is that it is nakedly unconstitutional and is nearly certain to meet an ugly fate in the courts. But that's never stopped the True Believers of the right before, has it? They can just declare the judges who slap them down as "judicial activists," and right-wing radio creeps will begin broadcasting their home addresses.
Well, the mere fact that a number of Republicans have signed on to support it should give pause to anyone who thinks that so-called "pro-life" issues are the only ones to have been hijacked by wackaloons and yet pandered to by politicians. Of course, we know you're not among that crowd, Michelle.
Still, I'm having trouble seeing you support this. Even you must realize that immigration, after all, has for all of this nation's history been closely associated with citizenship, and the familial ties that spring from having citizen children has always been an essential ingredient in that formula. You have a little personal experience in that area, right?
I mean, even the normally quite conservative San Diego Union-Tribune blasted this legislation:
- Actually, it's not enough to say that this bill would simply deny U.S. citizenship. Since the people impacted are already citizens under current law, what this legislation really intends to do is to revoke one's citizenship. That's a punishment so severe that it is usually reserved for traitors and enemies of the state. And this bill would mete out that punishment to children. And what did these pint-size subversives do to deserve all this? Absolutely nothing. They only managed to be born to parents who entered the country illegally.
Now this is not exactly a new phenomenon. One is likely to find this story told over and over again in the pages of U.S. history. Scores of pregnant women boarded ships in Italy or Ireland, headed for Ellis Island -– not always with the proper documents -– so that their children could enter the world as U.S. citizens. That's a beautiful tradition, and it's one worth preserving.
Such sentiments, of course, carry little weight with the anti-immigrant crowd, which is, as always, intent on its pound of flesh.
Indeed, you can find examples of it throughout history, always associated with Nativism and the worst, most bigoted elements of American society.
For instance, after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Senator Tom Stewart of Tennessee proposed stripping citizenship from anyone of Japanese descent: "A Jap's a Jap anywhere," he said.
This proposal had wide support on the Pacific Coast. Fairly typical was a letter to the Post-Intelligencer from Charlotte Drysdale of Seattle:
- It has been interesting to note how many contributors have been afraid we would have no garden truck if the Japs are sent to concentration areas. We had gardens long before the Japs were imported about the turn of the century, to work for a very low wage (a move for which we are still paying dearly) and we can still have them after we have no Japs.
Isn't that discounting American ability just a little too low?
And by Americans I mean not the children of the races ineligible to naturalization. The mere fact that a child is born in this country should not give him the rights and privileges of citizenship.
The fourteenth amendment, granting automatic citizenship to American born, was placed there for the protection of the Negro and at that time the great infiltration of Japs was not even thought of. In recent years there has been so much fear of hurting the feelings of these people that no one has had the courage to try to rectify the situation. Now it would seem that the time is ripe to put things right, for once and for all time.
Er, um, now that I think about it, maybe you'd have actually agreed with Mrs. Drysdale, wouldn't you, Michelle?
It's all so confusing. You are, after all, so devoted to all major immigration issues that I see you've even begun a separate blog devoted to the subject. So far -- and hey, it's early in the thing, so maybe I'm just impatient -- you don't seem to have managed to address H.R. 698. Nor have you seem to have written on it at your regular blog. Though I see your colleagues at VDare have done so enthusiastically.
But everyone has to wonder if there's at least a possibility that, were this bill to pass, you yourself could be stripped of your citizenship, Michelle Maglalang Malkin. After all, it doesn't take much to be declared an "illegal alien"; all you have to do is miss some paperwork or lack certain documents, and under this legislation, voila! Your children are no longer citizens.
You, like many other citizen children of immigrants in this country, might have your citizenship revoked if it is found that, at the time of your birth, your parents did not qualify as "legal residents." Now, I'm not impugning them or their reputations -- I'm sure they were here perfectly legally in every jot and tittle at every step of their residency -- I'm just pointing out that such vagaries are fairly common for most children of immigrants, and sometimes involve obscure paperwork the children might not even be aware of.
And like most of us descended within a few generations from immigrant forebears, I'm sure this smacks of a betrayal of our heritage as a nation of immigrants to you just as it does to me. It's one thing to argue for smarter immigration; it's another to deny children their traditional birthright. A birthright I'm sure you treasure as deeply as do I.
Maybe you can clear up the confusion for us.
In the meantime, I'll sure you'll be happy to note that not only has this bill found great favor at VDare (itself designated a "hate group" by the SPLC), but it also has drawn the full-fledged support of the the fine folks at White Revolution.
I guess that's called "expanding the base." Or is it?