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Lucky 14 and Citizenship
Posted Aug 11, 2010 - 12:51:17

 I don't mention it often, so some of you may not realize that I have a degree in Political Science. Like most people who have spent a good amount of time being students of American government, I have a favorite amendment to the United States Constitution. The cliche is that those on the left love the First Amendment, while those on the right love the Second -- but I'm a bit of an odd duck (albeit a liberal odd duck).

My favorite amendment has always been the Fourteenth.

Now what I've always like about it is that the Fourteenth Amendment has been interpreted to make the Bill of Rights apply to the States as well (when before it didn't) -- but that's not the part that's been in the news lately. What's been in the news lately is that a group of Republicans want to gut a very important part of the Fourteenth Amendment - the Citizenship Clause.

The Citizenship Clause is what established the "right of territory" - or in simple terms: if you're born in the United States, you're a United States Citizen. A few on the Right want to see this go away though, as they fear illegal immigrants having children here apparently.

Let me tell you why this is terrifyingly stupid.

For those with a myopic view of history, let's give you some context for the Fourteenth Amendment. It was passed after the Civil War as one of the "Reconstruction Amendments." It was designed to address the vast number of problems faced by the recently freed slaves in the south -- one of which was citizenship. Prior to the Fourteenth Amendment, African Americans were not and could not become Citizens.

The point was to prevent a large class of people from being considered "less than" -- as that really wouldn't be much better than the slavery we had just ended.

While people who come here illegally shouldn't be rewarded, by granting their children citizenship, what we're doing is preventing the development of a servant class. You can't end up with generations of disenfranchised workers, unable to exercise legal rights or defense if you instead grant the second generation full citizenship. The children didn't choose where they were born, and it makes no sense to punish them.

Granting citizenship averts long term dangers I can't even begin to describe within the confines of this space. I mean, imagine what would happen if there were generations of a servant class, restricted in their rights, disenfranchised, unable to see representation... it's not as great a sin as slavery, but it sure is enough to get a civil war or rebellion going.

Just some food for thought.
- Traegorn

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As a well-documented "C-" student of both politics and civics I had a very pronounced "WTF" moment when I saw hints of the Arizona(?) government wanting to try that scroll across the news ticker at work.
I have a very strong viewpoint that most governments always address symptoms of problems they don't identify. In the case of immigration, you have to look at why they are coming, which is usually for jobs. They find a job, get paid cash under the table. No tax on the money is paid. If labor laws were enforced, then employers wouldn't get away with hiring illegals and the government would get more tax money.
First off as a Moderate Liberal(I'm more liberal but I carry some conservative views). I practice my 1st and 2nd amendment rights(with my 30-06 hunting rifle).

I also think that is stupid to even try to get rid of that amendment. I personally feel there is a much better approach to illegal immigration than just going after them. Like stated I rather we really really really crackdown on the employers who pay them under the table.

I also think if we could move the Border Patrol on a military budget(while the service could still be civilian if possible), it would potentially recruit maybe a good amount of work for legal Americans to keep a better patrol on the border and give work to people.

And lastly, I think it would be worth it if there was money in the budget(which there really isn't), is to help out Mexico in becoming a better country so their citizens wouldn't have to cross over here for work or at least make it a quicker and a slightly easier process to help them get duel citizenship faster being the process now takes 3 years I believe.

These are all my opinions so I understand there might be things that might not work or may be more complicated but I think going after the 14th amendment isn't worth it at all.
I too have a B.A. is Poli-Sci, with an emphasis on constitutional law...

Though some have already mentioned it, seems to me like we already have a servant class.  By having these workers remain undocumented, how can we possibly verify they're making minimum wage?  While I am very much conservative, and Trae has definitely given a far superior and well justified argument against changing amendment 14 than anyone on Air America has, the fact of the matter remains that a nation cannot be sovereign without well defined borders. Period. And no one who has studied the American politic as I or Trae have can deny this.  Look at the violence erupting on the border right now.  Conservatives have been asking to secure the border for years (conservatives, not republicans), and it's not that we can, it's that we won't. Conservatives don't care about votes and sadly, this is what is happening to our country.  Democrats and Republicans both would just as soon toss their supporters, base and constituants to the wolves except for their votes. Similar to the the political climate during the Fall of Rome, out career politicians no longer run on the issues facing our country, they run purely to get elected and base their arguments on political litmus tests and campaign funding. 

People are quick to jump on Arizona for their new law.  they're quick to trot out old, tired race cards and drive-by esque attacks to avoid any real discussion of the issue.  The fact remains though, Arizona is BROKE, and it's because of the overwhelming influx of illegal immigrants taking advantage of tax-payer funded programs without paying in themselves.  The money has to come from somewhere folks, and people are damn sick of being told to give up what they work hard for only to see their own state government go "belly up".  The discussion over the 14th ammendment is but one of many possible solutions, it would be nice to see republicans, democrats and liberals come up with some ideas too.  Not all ideas are going to be pleasant ones, and the sooner we can face that, the sooner we can solve this problem.
Scrotty -- We could argue a billion different ways about the reasons Arizona is broke.  I don't think it's because of illegal immigration, but that's not really the important part -- and it would totally side track this. :)

I don't think border enforcement is really a workable solution.  I think someone earlier in the comments mentioned a solution that I think is probably the best one: Employment law enforcement.  To clarify a misconception -- a lot of illegal immigrants really do pay taxes.  Not all, but many.  If they ALL paid taxes, in the short term it would help budget problems.  In the long run, under the table jobs would go down, reducing the motivation for illegal immigrants to come to the US in the first place.

Can I just say that I'm glad this discussion has been amiable?  Political discourse often gets too volatile these days.
"Trae has definitely given a far superior and well justified argument against changing amendment 14 than anyone on Air America has"

It's splitting hairs, I know, but Air America has been off the air for half a year now.  I doubt they're chiming in.  As far as who's still out there on the left, they're mostly as bad as the hosts on the right.  You'll get some decent analysis out of Hartmann, though.

"Look at the violence erupting on the border right now.  Conservatives have been asking to secure the border for years (conservatives, not republicans)..."

Violence rates on the US side of the border have gone down in the past ten years, not up.  Certainly there is a drug war in full force on the Mexican side of the border, and some of that spills over.  But by and large the numbers are down, not up, on our side of the border.

 "and it's not that we can, it's that we won't."

Certainly border security can be improved, but most analysis I've read says it can't be fully "secured."  Israel can't keep supplies and people from being smuggled over to Gaza and it's one of the most militarized borders in the world, and a whole lot shorter than our border with Mexico, I might add.  And to paraphrase a computer security maxim, there's no wall that can be built that can't be breached.  And while I don't think that's any reason we should just leave the border as it is, higher walls, more money and more guns are not the whole solution to the problem.  It's not even a substantial fraction of the solution.

"they run purely to get elected and base their arguments on political litmus tests and campaign funding."

Fully and wholeheartedly agreed in reference to both parties.

"Arizona is BROKE, and it's because of the overwhelming influx of illegal immigrants taking advantage of tax-payer funded programs without paying in themselves."

Perhaps illegal immigration plays a role, even a big role.  But there's a couple of points here.  First, AZ is not typically known for liberal welfare programs.  I doubt very much that there are many state-run programs handing out money to non-taxpayers or even to taxpayers for that matter.  California?  Yeah. Arizona?  Not really.  Second, while it's clearly law of unintended consequences, a bit of an exodus is going on in AZ right now of ALL immigrants, even legal ones.  And the AZ economy is suffering greatly as a result.  I'm quite certain that wasn't the plan, but it has been the result.  All political stances aside, AZ's law has been a failure before it even made it through the court battles on the economic front.  And the fear-mongering about kidnappings (not true), massive waves of immigration, and drug wars (also not statistically true) have heavily damaged AZ's image.  My mom went to college there and has said she'd love to go back, but she's too afraid of the violence there.  The non-existant violence.
What scares me most about gutting the 14th is that there would need to be some new criteria for citizenship to replace it.  And I can't think of anything that could possibly be enforced equally and without bias.

Should people have to take a test?  Who then controls who administers it and how it is graded?  Who gets access to taking it and who controls that?

Should there have to be a tax or a fee?  This is tantamount to taxation without representation.  We fought for our own sovereign rights over that one.

Should one be certified clear of disease or disorder?  Do I even need to go into the reasons that one is scary to consider?

The 14th Amendment is worded the way it is to ensure fairness.  Plain and simple.  Messing with that just because a few people (relatively speaking) are gaming the system is a very bad idea.




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