Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Hey Republicans, On Immigration, Why Stop at the 14th Amendment?

The so-called "anchor baby" issue in Arizona state politics has metastasized, entering the halls of the Senate. Republicans Jon Kyl and Lindsey Graham have called for a repeal of the 14 Amendment's provision that automatically grants US citizenship to anyone born in the country. As TalkingPointsMemo lays out, they have plenty of company within GOP ranks in supporting this idea. Yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell signed on as well to at least examining the proposal.

As I've mentioned here before, the idea of revoking the automatic citizenship portion of the 14th Amendment is not new. Conservatives in the 1920s argued for doing the same to deny the Japanese "anchor babies" of the day their citizenship. In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor they also pushed for the deportation of those same citizens of Japanese heritage along with their "alien" parents at the conclusion of World War II. Their arguments weren't much different then as now. Japanese immigrants and their "alien citizen" progeny unfairly sucked up American resources (in this case, land and agricultural markets, not welfare) and they were a potential security risk (one GOP Congressman has suggested that Islamic terrorists may use "anchor babies" as 20-year sleeper agents. Really.)

Given this, long (if not, in its own way, proud) heritage, why not push beyond repealing part of the 14th Amendment? The GOP should consider repealing the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which gave Japanese-Americans reparations (reparations!) for property lost during their internment in World War II. If Japanese immigrants had those kids simply to stay in the country, which was necessary because after early-1920s Supreme Court decisions they themselves were not eligible for naturalization, then why reward those anchor babies with taxpayer money? Repealing the Civil Liberties Act would also take back the nation's apology for racial profiling on the grandest and most grotesque scale, which, of course by superior logic of Arizona politicians, wasn't really racial profiling at all.

The GOP could also add a plank to its national platform commemorating the deportation of 400,000 Mexicans from the Southwest during the Great Depression to give their jobs to hard-working Okies. That half of those deported were US citizens is immaterial: the larger point is the federal government acted to secure the border for Americans' economic opportunity.

The Republican Party could call for a federal investigation of anyone whose ancestors immigrated to the United States after 1924, the first time actual paper documentation was required of Europeans to enter the country as an immigrant legally, to ensure generations of anchor babies have not unfairly received citizenship because of their ancestors' fraud.

With enforcement of the 14th Amendment out of the way, the Republican Party could advocate a return to the jurisprudence of the Ozawa (1922) and Thind (1923) cases, which restored the Founding Fathers' vision of immigration and citizenship to something of their original intent and forbade naturalization of any non-whites. If we should be so concerned with the original intent of the framers of the 14th Amendment, why not go all the way back with originalism and restore the Naturalization Act of 1790? That will certainly play to the Tea Party crowd in more ways than one. 


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