While Republicans on the federal level as one of their first acts in taking over the House of Representatives read the Constitution and its Amendments aloud on the House Floor, on the state level they also prepare to launch an all-out assault on the Constitution by trying to blow up the 14th amendment so that U.S. citizenship is denied to children born on U.S. soil but that happen to have parents that are undocumented immigrants, nevermind that these children are as American as the next person. On Wednesday, January 5th in partnership with well-known white supremacists, right-wing state legislators launched this renewed campaign with a a press conference announcing plans to attack the 14th amendment on the state level. The blowback was immediate, as they were quickly met with protests and a coalition was formed as a response to protect all of our rights to citizenship. Taking away citizenship away from Americans would not only do nothing to solve the root (the oppresive poverty that creates “illegal immigrants” in the first place) of our “illegal immigration problem”, it would impact eveyone, not just the children of undocumented immigrants.
This effort, like with their pledge to overturn President Obama’s health insurance reform package, is dead on arrival, being that Republicans simply do not have the votes nor legal standing to advance any of such proposals and are really putting on this show of theatrics for symbolism sakes. As former Bush Adminstration official and former Texas solicitor General, James C. Ho pointed out in the Wall Street Journal:
A coalition of state legislators, motivated by concerns about illegal immigration, is expected to endorse state-level legislation today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to deny the privileges of U.S citizenship to the U.S.-born children of undocumented persons.
This effort to rewrite U.S. citizenship law from state to state is unconstitutional–and curious. Opponents of illegal immigration cannot claim to champion the rule of law and then, in the same breath, propose policies that violate our Constitution.
In the aftermath of the Civil War, members of the 39th Congress proposed amending the Constitution to reverse the Supreme Court’s notorious 1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford ruling denying citizenship to slaves. The result is the first sentence of the 14th Amendment: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.”
The plain meaning of this language is clear. A foreign national living in the United States is “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” because he is legally required to obey U.S. law.
Not only is the effort undeniably unconstitutional, it is equally counterproductive because it will further enrage the continuously growing Latino vote and throw Republicans into the risk of a repeat of the shellacking that the Latino vote handed to the Tea Party’s efforts to take over the Senate in the last midterm elections. So why is the GOP sending these conflicting messages? On the one hand, the Republican Party is clearly attempting to brand itself as “the party of the constitution”, on the other, in a sense they are seemingly intent on destroying it. The GOP has a major messaging problem on this, no doubt about it; however, do not be fooled into thinking that their efforts will “result in nothing accomplished.” If there’s one thing that the Republicans have proven, is that they know who their audience is and will stop at nothing to turn out their base to win elections for them and to influece the media to parrot back their right-wing talking points as “fact”, consequences be damned.
Update: Ed Schultz had Representative Luis Gutierrez on his show to discuss what’s going on.
Update # 2: Add your name to the list of those that want to protect our Constitution and our American values here!