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Anchor Babies -- Should the Constitution Be Changed?


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I can't find the video now but I believe Jon Stewart recently blasted conservatives saying that they were obsessing over around 7,000 children. But a new Pew study out this week says that actually 1 out of 12, or about 8% of the children born here each year, have parents who are in the country illegally.


That's about 340,000 children. Not a small number at all.




The 14th Amendment guarantees their citizenship. But a recent groundswell of support has appeared amongst some Republican politicians to push for changing this with a new amendment that would overwrite that specific portion of the 14th amendment.


My opinion is that it's a distraction from the main issue, which is passing comprehensive immigration reform. The logical common ground on that issue is clear -- make the border reasonably secure and provide a path to citizenship for those already here -- and supported by a majority of Americans in most polls, but it can never quite get done because of extremists exerting pressure on politicians (or so it seems to me). (On the plus side, the House did pass a new bill providing 1500 more border agents this week.) If the border were reasonably secure then anchor babies would be a rarity instead of such a huge number, and the issue would be moot.


What do you all think?

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I have to add to that roughly half of the illegal immigrants present in the US do not cross the borders illegally, but have overstayed their Visa. An interesting question would be how many of these are parents. Another question is what problems these anchor babies bring and whether it would justify a new amendment.

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I don't think the constitution should be changed on this. And also think it's a distraction and only treats symptoms while ignoring the disease of border insecurity. I'm still as dumbfounded as ever listening to folks wax on about terrorism and the imperative to respond militarily, for a decade now, occupying other countries with thousands upon thousands of troops while we make pitiful symbolic gestures to our own borders.


Only when we actually stop illegal immigration, will we be forced to deal with legal immigration requirements. Right now, we're in this weird holding pattern where we feel hostile about closing the door on illegal immigration, presumably because we think it's heartless and selfish. At the same time, since the door isn't closed, no one has been compelled enough to change the laws to reconcile with our modern perspective and preferences on immigration requirements. So, our result is a solution that requires them to be criminals with disparate rights and no responsibility or dues to the republic, while we all run around enjoying the benefits of labor laws yet bitching about paying more than our fair share of taxes.


An amendment to end Anchor Babies is not going to do anything to fix that problem. As usual, it just looks to me like we're too chicken to face the problems. And I think it's all politics. It wouldn't be popular to call ourselves out for perpetuating an oppressive second class citizen design that uses appeals to cheap labor to justify it. It also isn't popular to sell "fortress america", but it may just be appropriate.

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Since the 14th Amendment is arguably the most essential of all American liberties, and it does a lot of the legal work of sustaining the vital right to protection of a private sphere of autonomy for each individual against the community, I would hate to see any tampering with it just for its side-effects on the citizenship of children born to foreign nationals. If the 14the Amendment were altered in the current illiberal atmosphere, who knows what kind of Pandora's Box of libery-denying changes would be introduced.


It is ironic that it is now the Right which is complaining about illegal immigration, since it was the Right which allowed 12,000,000 illegals to come into the country in the first place in order to provide labor unprotected by minimum wage laws for corporations to exploit. Perhaps with the economy now in a slump, xenophobia and racism now win out over the desire for cheap labor.


That said, one of the criteria used in international law to define a country is that it must be an area which can maintain effective control over its borders and the definition of its population membership, but with America's southern border so porous, the U.S. has only tenuous status in international law as a country. This is a pitiful result for a country which spends more on its military budget to defend its national integrity than the rest of the world combined.


The immigration issue raises fundamental questions about the nature of a liberal state. Is it just a kind of airport lounge which doesn't care about the cultural character of the people who live there, as long as they abide by the laws and constitution? Or can it legitimately insist on some cultural definition of its people? If there were enough space and enough jobs, would it be perfectly all right if 1.2 billion Chinese were to immigrate to the U.S. tomorrow, with the result that Christmas and Easter would no longer be legal holidays, Mandarin and Cantonese would be the national languages, and few if any 'Americans' would know who George Washington or Abraham Lincoln were? The Roman Empire didn't collapse because anyone declared war on it, but just because people of a different character moved across its borders in large numbers and gradually changed its nature. Is it just racism to insist on the preservation of a certain basic national cultural character in your own country?

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A14-1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.[/Quote]


A14-5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.[/Quote]


Note; The 14th was designed to ensure that all former slaves were granted automatic United States citizenship, and that they would have all the rights and privileges as any other citizen. The amendment passed Congress on June 13, 1866, and was ratified on July 9, 1868 (757 days).[/Quote]




Jurisdiction, being the operative word here;


Subject to the jurisdiction thereof


During discussion of whether to pass the 14th Amendment, there was debate over granting citizenship to anyone born in the United States. The author of the 14th Amendment Citizenship Clause, Senator Jacob M. Howard, stated, in reference to the Amendment, "This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the family of ambassadors, or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons."[4]


In 1873, The United States Attorney General ruled the word "jurisdiction" under the 14th Amendment meant:


"The word 'jurisdiction' must be understood to mean absolute and complete jurisdiction, such as the United States had over its citizens before the adoption of this amendment. Aliens, among whom are persons born here and naturalized abroad, dwelling or being in this country, are subject to the jurisdiction of the United States only to a limited extent. Political and military rights and duties do not pertain to them."[5][/Quote]




The above should explain to you, that first no Amendment would be needed to the 14th A, or in fact does it even apply to 'Anchor Baby's as defined today. EVEN if other Legislation or Court Rulings have used this A, a simple modification or clarification (A14, paragraph 5) would suffice.


Second and most important, anyway you define how we got here, where the Federal is somehow in charge of Immigration Policy*, over and above guarding/protecting the borders Jurisdiction from 1873 has been the guiding principle. In fact to legally deport any person, ICE or any Court, permission must be received from most Nations, in advance and often referred to any person from elsewhere is entitled to access to their National Embassy. Granting asylum, is a different issue entirely, for the record.


*Here is interesting article written in 2006 (for a good many of these discussions), but what's relevant here is the Jefferson's Definition of the Federal and Immigration, before 1873. By the way, since the following was over Arizona, Janet Napolitano, your Secretary of Homeland Security, from NYC, never married, attorney and thought to be on every short list for the SC, was then Governor. Does anybody see a pattern here....


Thomas Jefferson forcibly tells us what the States retained under the US Constitution in regards to immigration;


[A]lien friends are under the jurisdiction and protection of the laws of the state wherein they are; that no power over them has been delegated to the United States, nor prohibited to the individual states, distinct from their power over citizens; and it being true, as a general principle, and one of the amendments to the Constitution having also declared, that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited to the states, are reserved, to the states, respectively, or to the people,” the act of the Congress of the United States, passed the 22d day of June, 1798, entitled “An Act concerning Aliens,” which assumes power over alien friends not delegated by the Constitution, is not law, but is altogether void and of no force. [/Quote]


Anchor Baby in general is a new term, if interested the history of...




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Similar to what Paranoia said, I think that something does have to be done to deal with illegal immigration first - the 14th amendment could be just fine, but producing an unreasonable impact due to unreasonable circumstances.


If we can deal with that, we likely won't need to modify the 14th amendment. Maybe we will after all, but we can't know for sure until we fix the other exasperating conditions.

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