by Charles Foster on April 7, 2010 at 12:08 PM
The following is a response I wrote regarding George Will's article stating kids of non-citizens have no right to U.S. citizenship:
Dear Mr. Will:
I am a genuine admirer of your weekly column and I never miss seeing you on This Week on ABC and look forward to what you have to say since I agree so much with you and think that you offer rare incisive comments when others are often lacking critical thinking. However, your column on immigration was way below your standards for the following reasons:
No one is induced to come here to have children to gain a personal benefit. 99% of the time they are coming here overwhelmingly to work. The parent receives no legal benefit until the child is 21 and even then in order to benefit, they would have to return home and be subject to an additional 10-year bar or 31 years before they receive a benefit. Having children in the U.S. is incidental to coming for better work opportunities.
Coming from both you and Professor Graglia (from my alma mater), your sentence, “The authors and ratifiers could not have intended birth right citizenship for illegal immigrants because in 1868 there were and never had been any illegal immigrants because no law had ever restricted immigration” is shocking for two reasons: First, any casual knowledge of immigration law would show that we had many immigration laws on the books by 1866 that would subject foreign nationals in violation of same to deportation and removal for far more serious grounds than being an visa overstay, which accounts for about 40% of illegal immigration today, or first time entry without documentation. As you know, those transgressions are treated as civil offenses almost exclusively. So your basic premise that the authors of the 14th Amendment were not aware that individuals would have been in the U.S. illegally by having violated U.S. immigration laws for far more serious reasons, e.g. sedition, contagious diseases or the commission of crimes, makes no sense. Second, even greater and more shocking for you and Professor Graglia would be the implication that we should have a very liberal interpretation of the 14th Amendment based upon the fact that if only the framers of same had only realized that a particular immigration violation would have far greater negative impact in the future then other violations of the existing immigration restrictions, then we should interpret the Constitution differently. That would be like saying that we should reinterpret the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms because the framers of the Constitution could not have realized that today we would have automatic weapons with far greater fire power than the weaponry that existed at the time of the 2nd Amendment. That very liberal approach to our Constitution is something with which Chief Justice Earl Warren may have been comfortable.
Furthermore, individuals who have studied this know that the actually phrase “not subject to any foreign power,” was primarily intended to exclude the children of diplomats, which is still the current interpretation. That was for the benefit of the diplomat so that their children would not be subject to the laws of the United States and thus have divided allegiances.
From a policy point of view, what could be more divisive than having two children growing up side by side in the country, going to the same schools, speaking the same language and it be determined later than one child’s parents happen to have had a violation of our immigration law thus making that child subject to the very worst penalty, worse than any criminal penalties; removal and deportation from the United States. What about the biblical admonition of not visiting the sins of the father on the child?
Finally, I object to the term “illegal” in reference to any individual. No individual is “illegal.” They may reside and live in the U. S. in violation of either possibly a criminal, but more likely a civil provision, but why not say that the illegal fraudulent taxpayer’s child or even worse the illegal embezzler’s child also does not get the benefit of citizenship? After all that person is also “illegal” by your definition.
Some food for thought for you who normally shows a great deal of critical thinking – but I don’t think so on this issue.