Tuesday, May 25, 2010

So, we can't even take Citizenship-by-Birth for granted now?

NPR reports on legislation being introduced in Congress and in Texas and Oklahoma which would deny birth certificates to children born to illegal immigrants. The people working behind these anti-birthright bills include Oklahoma state representative Randy Terrill and Texas state rep Leo Burman. In one of the most grandiose failures of common sense I've read in recent memory, Randy Terrill says the following:

Currently, if you have a child born to two alien parents, that person is believed to be a U.S. citizen...When taken to its logical extreme, that would produce the absurd result that children of invading armies would be considered citizens of the U.S.

When taken to its logical extreme, there are little things that make any sense, but even then his scenario is still absurb. But ridiculous hyperbole aside, these arguments don't really seem to be getting anywhere. Thankfully, Congress does appear to have something vaguely resembling standards, and the part of the Constitution defining anyone born in the United States as a U.S. citizen seems definite enough for their liking.

My major problem with all this is the deep xenophobia that it denotes in some of the people holding positions of power in this country. Granted, *all* arguments against open immigration denote either a deep understanding of way personal freedom works or some belief in a "we" and a "them", "they" not being privileged enough to live here on account of the particular landmass they happened to be born on. But to rights to children BORN in the country, even if they happen to be children of those the government deems "illegal" - that's an extreme I hadn't heard of before.

Politicians never cease to surprise me. And never in a good way.


  1. Children of invading armies? Is that really an issue? We've been invaded, what, never?

  2. That isn't even the worst part. These are usually the same people who would prefer those illegal immigrants be kicked out of the hospital and have to give birth in the street.

  3. Seriously, immigration is probably an issue that concerns me not at all. I get the reactionary "They took R Jerbs" attitude there isn't any solid evidence that illeagles are actually increasing unemployment among citizens. At any rate I don't support this idea but I wouldn't be so sure that the constitution forbids it. I believe the clause gauranteeing birthright citizenship says something to the effect of under the jurisdiction of the United States. A case could be made that niether illegal immigrants nor invading armies are under US jurisdiction, although legal aliens and visitors certainly would be. I am not syaing this will or should happen but it wouldn't surprise me if it did.

  4. True, and the NPR article does give that particular clause as one of the ways that proponents of this legislation are using to argue that its not unconstitutional. But I don't know, I feel that the idea of citizenship by birth is one that's generally accepted by most, at least for now. I feel like its in that family of things that elementary school kids learn about this grand ol' country of ours that makes it so much better than others. It might be possible for something to this effect to become politically viable in the future, but I doubt that it would get anywhere soon. Although maybe I'm just being optimistic X0

  5. So committing the "crime" of being an undocumented immigrant means their children cannot gain citizenship? I'd rather the crimes of politicians and corporate executives force their children to leave the country. This would have prevented the whole "W" fiasco.


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