Its time to once again visit the issue of illegal immigration. Sigh.
The latest foolishness on this front is attempts by 14 states to undo
parts of the 14th Amendment. Get it? Fourteen states, 14th Amendment? Very
clever. Efforts are also underway in Congress to amend the amendment.
Their concern is directed at the first line of Section 1 of the 14th
Amendment which reads: All persons born or naturalized in the United
States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the
United States and of the states wherein they reside.
Pretty straightforward stuff if youre born here youre a citizen here.
The target of this is, of course, the babies of illegal immigrants. The
advocates of a new amendment would have us believe illegal immigrants are
flooding across the border specifically to drop their anchor babies so
they can immediately receive some kind of government handout and then
bring the rest of their slovenly family to the country to live off the
hard work of the rest of us.
Theyve even decided that illegal immigrants are not subject to the
jurisdiction of our laws. Never mind that they have to abide by, and are
subject to all of our laws, including immigration laws. No, the amend the
amendment crowd says, those who wrote it actually meant loyalty when
they said jurisdiction.
Unfortunately for the Happy Amenders, there are records of those initial
discussions so we actually know pretty much what the authors were thinking
at the time.
In 1856, the United States Supreme Court handed down the Dred Scott
decision in which they found that no one of African descent was, or could
ever be, a citizen of the United States. Im not kidding. So wretched
was this decision it helped precipitate the Civil War and took the
Emancipation Proclamation and parts of three separate Constitutional
amendments (the 13th, 14th and 15th) to finally undo it.
The 14th Amendment, passed in 1868, was a fairly direct response to both
Dred Scott and onerous laws enacted in the recently defeated South
attempting to deprive former slaves of any and all citizenship rights. In
addition to the citizenship section it also includes the incredibly
important equal protection clause.
During the debate, much of which is part of the historical record, we know
the question of the status of children born here to non-citizen parents
was discussed. It was agreed, without a dissenting voice, that those
children would be citizens.
Now, nearly 150 years later, there are those trying to put words in the
mouths of the authors that were never spoken and peculiar nuances that
were never intended.
The only folks excluded from the 14th, except the children of diplomats,
were Native Americans, who were believed to be under the jurisdiction of
tribal leaders and not the laws of the United States. In fact, Native
Americans born within our borders did not automatically become citizens
Yes, times have changed but the facts are not on the side of those wishing
to make another kind of change. There is little evidence that pregnant
illegal immigrant women are flocking to the United States simply to have
According to the Pew Hispanic Center, part of the extremely independent
Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, more than 60% of
parents here illegally have been here at least five years before they
have a child. More than 90% are here at least a year.
Additionally, the notion that these new baby citizens somehow anchor
the rest of the family into a fast-track for citizenship is nonsense.
Our laws require those baby citizens wait until they are at least 21
years old before sponsoring any family members for even a green card.
That just starts the process which might take even more years. Hardly
a fast-track to anything.
We still have a fractured immigration system that needs fixing at the
federal level. If were going to honestly and seriously address
illegal immigration perhaps we shouldnt start by trying to change the
Constitution. A debate that includes at least some of the facts, from
both sides, might be a better option than putting a citizenship
bulls-eye on newborn babies.
Meanwhile, First Lady Michelle Obama is under attack from the New Right.
She has made the apparently inexcusable mistake of suggesting our children
should eat healthier and exercise more.
She has not made any demands or requested legislation or petitioned the
Food and Drug Administration for tougher rules on food. In fact, she has
insisted on nothing at all. Ms. Obama has merely become an advocate for
healthier eating and more exercise.
The New Right has responded by claiming shes just another advocate of the
nanny state, a Socialist, a Marxist or someone interfering with parental
rights. Leading the charge to protect our families from Ms. Obamas
interference are Rush Limbaugh, an overweight drug addict with a criminal
record, and former governor Sarah Palin, who seems perfectly happy letting
others raise her toddler. One assumes they believe things will be much
better if our children remain sedentary lumps gorging on lard and sugar.
We now have hospitals ordering ever wider wheel chairs, auto manufacturers
being forced to move seats farther and farther away from steering wheels,
furniture importers requiring more support in oversized chairs and couches
and airlines requiring some passengers to purchase two seats. All because
we can no longer fit our fat butts and bulging bellies into much of
A third of our children are now considered obese. Not overweight by a
couple of pounds but obese. Childhood diabetes is epidemic and high blood
pressure and heart issues are sure to follow. That will put more stress
on an already overburdened healthcare system we can no longer afford.
Michelle Obama would like our children, and the rest of us, to eat
healthier and become more physically active, ideas supported by virtually
every healthcare professional on the planet. For this she is ridiculed by
an overweight prescription drug junkie and a stay-away-from-home mom.
Its enough to make you sick.