Comment: Better Fish To Fry
Congressional GOP leaders have recently sought to question long-settled common law on birthright citizenship – the doctrine of jus soli – which guarantees citizenship based solely on the geography of birth, with exceptions only for children of diplomats and occupying armies (the exceptions and the common law rule both date back to centuries before there was an American Republic). Influential GOP leaders outside Congress have come out swinging against this folly by Republicans in Congress. A member of the Reagan White House writes in the Wall Street Journal "Instead of amending the Constitution to eliminate ‘anchor babies’ — the ugly term opponents of birthright citizenship use to describe these U.S. citizens — Republicans should be helping them become good Americans." As Politico reports, she is joined by "former aides to both Vice President Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush … condemn[ing] the calls by top Republicans to end birthright citizenship". According to news reports, other figures including anti-immigrant TV crusader Lou Dobbs and former GOP Presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Alan Keyes, have indicated that the Congressional GOP leadership is going too far.
Perhaps the GOP leaders intend only to further ignite the coals of discontent among their base, to ensure better turnout in November, thus possibly capturing the House. In other words, perhaps this is strictly political, and in their hearts the GOP leaders accept the common law on birthright citizenship. If so, they are playing with fire here - taking the risk of upsetting the stability that the clear jus soli rule provides – may have many unintended consequences – insofar as Constitutional issues are concerned, "when it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change". Republicans gains in the next Congress do not appear contingent upon using this particular argument, no matter how anti-immigrant a tone the GOP wishes to cast itself in politically.
However, perhaps GOP leaders are genuinely keen on re-examining one of our fundamental national tenets. If so, they may be under-estimating the effects of what will inevitably ensue – the genie they thus unleash will not go back in the lamp. It is not a coincidence that the common law rule on citizenship was re-stated in the 14th amendment after the greatest cataclysm our Republic has ever suffered – the Civil War. While another Civil War, this time over immigration, may seem an impossibility right now, so would Republican support for a review of birthright citizenship have seemed just a few years ago. GOP leaders should pause before going too far down this perilous road.
In short, questioning birthright citizenship makes neither tactical nor strategic sense for the GOP. GOP leaders ought to have better fish to fry.
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Focus: The Immigration Compliance Book
The Immigration Compliance Book, Editors Angelo A. Paparelli, L. Batya Schwartz Ehrens, and Dan Siciliano features contributions from Jason Burritt, Francis E. Chin, Philip C. Curtis, Laura Danielson, John Fay, Bonnie K. Gibson, Richard Gump, Douglas D. Hauer, Susanne C. Heubel, Loan Huynh, Jay Jorgensen, Susan Kelly, Adam Ketcher, Cynthia Lange, Kevin Lashus, Robert F. Loughran, Kristin Major, Johanna Marmon, Cyrus D. Mehta, Maggie Murphy, Michael Patrick, Julie Pearl, Justin A. Rymer, Olivia M. Sanson, Lynn O. Tarran, Vinh C. Trieu, Steve Trow, Greg Wald, Matthew Warren and Michael J. Wildes. The Table of Contents is as follows:
For more info on this book and to order,
- Editors' Introduction
- Understanding I-9 Concepts
- I-9 Advanced Topics
- Employer E-Verify Considerations
- E-Verify Advanced Topics
- DHS Enforcement Through ICE Raids and Audits
- Specialty Topics
- Resource Materials