I was having an email back-and-forth with a conservative friend of mine about Trump’s immigration plan and I was surprised at how negative he was about two aspects of the plan; no amnesty for illegals and no birthright citizenship. Oddly enough, those are the same two issues that the media has gone totally apoplectic about since Trump’s plan was released.
No amnesty has been translated by the media into a multibillion dollar deportation plan. The media has gone into hysterics over deporting illegal’s, with estimates of cost ranging from 100 billion dollars to a trillion, with the image of massive law enforcement forces going on a hard target search of every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, hen house, outhouse and doghouse in the United States on the hunt for anyone matching the paper bag test in skin tone.
No one, not Trump or anyone has suggested that.
All Trump has suggested was merely enforcing current law. That means, when you run across illegal’s, whether it’s a traffic stop or some other brush with law enforcement, detain them and deport them. That’s it. Just follow the law. That should actually be cheaper than the constant catch and release that we currently do.
Every news show I watched last week declared the 14th Amendment the last word in [caution! Trigger Warning!] Anchor babies. I didn’t see a single show, whether it was on the big 3, Fox, or MSNBC that had a guest on to say different.
The 14th Amendment was written to keep southern states from claiming that the newly freed slaves were not citizens. Originally that was done through the 1866 Civil Rights Act but Congress decided that southerners were so stubborn (probably an accurate reading of the mood in the reconstruction South) that a constitutional amendment was needed.
Then came United States v. Wong Kim Ark. This 1898 case was whether it violated the Chinese Exclusion Act that a person born to Chinese parents in the US was a US citizen. The Supreme Court ruled that Wong Kim Ark was in fact a citizen, even though he was born to non citizen parents. This is what most open borders advocates point to as the proof positive that children born to illegal parents in the US are in fact US citizens.
Wong Kim Ark’s parents were not illegal’s; they were in the country legally. So this isn’t really “settled law” in regards to illegal aliens. So it doesn’t really address the issue being asked about today. As far as the 14th Amendment goes, the real issue revolves around the phrase in the nestled in the amendment, “subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.”
What does that mean? According to Justice Gray’s opinion in Wong Kim Ark, “This sentence of the Fourteenth Amendment is declaratory of existing rights and affirmative of existing law. “ What existing law? The 1866 Civil Rights Act. So this is the basis for thinking that the law can be changed via legislation. Congress wrote the 1866 Civil Rights Act, they can amend or change it to exclude the children of people not in the country legally, or in other words, people who are NOT subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. No constitutional amendment required.
Now if Congress actually passed a law that excluded the children of illegal immigrants you can bet it would wind up in court before the ink is dry, so what the Court would do is totally up in the air, but given the Court’s record of decisions lately, the Court could well find that all 7 billion people on Earth are US citizens according to the 14th Amendment. That’s no crazier than determining that the 14th Amendment has always meant that gay marriage was constitutionally required.
The media is pretty clever at setting the tone of debate, and defining terms and concepts. That’s how the idea of just enforcing existing law suddenly balloons into multibillion dollar enforcement knocking down every door in the country and only allowing one legal argument on birthright citizenship to be heard. The media has every intention of controlling the allowable debate in the Republican primaries so it would behoove conservatives to no allow the media to define their proposals.