Xenophobia? No. Misinformation? Yes. As the 2010 midterm elections rapidly approach Republicans seem to be eyeing seats like hungry dogs. John Boehner practically salivates every time he sees Nancy Pelosi’s seat. Although some pollsters are predicting a shift in power come November, the Republicans could be licking their wounds after the precincts close. Senator Lindsey Grahams’ recent comments about modifying the 14th amendment to change the birthright clause could easily land the Republicans in the dog house. Although many Republican operatives have recognized that Graham’s proposal to re-examine the 14th amendment could be politically suicidal, the damage seems to be done. Graham’s misguided understanding of immigration policy in this country is about as ridiculous as America’s infatuation with the television show Jersey Shore.
In an interview with Fox news Graham said that too many people were coming to the United States to have children: “ They come here to drop a child. It’s called a drop and leave.” Unfortunately, immigration in this country doesn’t work like a Blockbuster drop box. The 14th amendment was ratified in 1869 to ensure that freed slaves were citizens. Congressman Randy Neugebauer, another supporter of modification of the 14th amendment and cosponsor of H.R. 1868 said, “I believe a necessary part of immigration reform is ending birthright citizenship, that’s why I’m a cosponsor of H.R. 1868, which would amend our immigration laws to consider a person born in the United States qualified for citizenship only if they meet certain conditions”. The conditions are simple: One must be born in the United States to parents which at least one is born in the U.S. citizen, a lawful resident alien, or alien performing active service in the armed force. This would only contribute to the immigration problem in this country.
More than 70% of all children of illegal immigrants are U.S. citizens. Denying birthright citizenship would retroactively punish millions of young people who have led productive and lawful lives in the U.S. Moreover, it would create a permanent underclass. Many right wingers are misguided in their claims about taking advantage of the system. The misconception of the role that children of illegal immigrant play is sickening. A lot of pundits are calling these kids “anchor babies” because they believe that they help their parents gain citizenship. The children of illegal immigrants can’t file for Visas for their parents until they are 21 years of age. Additionally that child must be earning at least 125% of the U.S. poverty threshold to apply. Hence, there are no official loopholes that allow the parents to remain here illegally.
Senator Lindsey Graham has no respect for the Constitution. Birthright citizenship is protected under the 14th amendment! Although the immigration process must be reformed, we need nuanced and practical reform. To call children of illegal immigrants “anchor babies” paints millions of people with a broad brush. Many of those “anchor babies” are making great contributions to this country. Don’t punish children for the actions of their parents. The 14th amendment should stay untouched!