Monday, June 14, 2010

citizenship

As people may have heard, there's a movement afoot in the Arizona legislature to find a way to deny citizenship to children born in the U.S. based upon the immigration status of their parents.

It's a clear hot button issue. That Yahoo news article I linked has gotten 21,000 comments, ignoring any and all replies on top of that, within 2 days. Practically, the bill is almost certainly a non-starter. The Constitution itself states that anyone born in the U.S. is a citizen and the 14th amendment made it even stronger: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States..." The authors of the Arizona bill say they will try to write it in a way that isn't unconstitutional, but it's difficult to see how they'd pull it off. We have a long history in the U.S. of finding ways to deny citizenship rights to citizens of the wrong type (usually based on race), and so the Courts have a long history now of seeing that and striking the laws down. In the end, the bill is probably entirely political and feel-good for those of a certain political persuasion.

That said, my opposition to such a bill has mostly been wishy-washy. I like to be nice to people no matter where the person came from, so you know....

That's not much of a thought process. Through a Facebook comment, however, I think I understand why the law is wrong. Someone who supports the bill used the phrase: "denying birth certificates to illegals." However, this is not what the bill proposes.

No one is attempting to give the parent that is in the country illegally an American birth certificate. That wouldn't make any sense; they weren't born in the U.S. (Naturalization being distinct from a birth certificate). Instead proponents of the Arizona bill are attempting to deny American birth certificates to children born in the U.S. whom the Constitution explicitly declares to be American. They are abridging the privileges of American children. The baby is in no way illegal, but they are going to be denied citizenship based upon the legal issues that their parents are involved in.

We don't deny American birth certificates based on any other crime. Your parents can be murderers, thieves, perverts, rapists, cannibals, traitors.... The kids are still American no matter what heinous act their parents did. Moreover, we don't hold the child responsible for those acts. While imperial China did punish entire families when one family member committed a crime, today we don't legally punish an infant for its parent's actions. And citizenship is the fundamental right from which all others follow. The Bill of Rights only applies to American citizens. Take away citizenship from an American child because of the legal problems of their parents, and you've taken away all legal rights. It cuts right to the core.

The purpose of the bill, then, is to remove all rights from some American children who have done nothing illegal so that it is easier to punish the parents who have.

3 comments:

Kath黃rinA俊宇 said...

快樂是你與生俱來的權力,它不應該取決於你完成什麼。 ......................................................................

writtenwyrdd said...

Perhaps there can be a means whereby the child can petition to be instated as a US citizen when they reach their majority? That seems fair enough.

Mother (Re)produces. said...

Whatever happened to "Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses"? Must have been some other country... I think the US gov't has a lot of cheek denying rights or citizenship to anyone considering the history of immigration so far. At which point are they planning to give Manhattan back to its rightful owner? Or is the rightful owner just the one with the biggest gun?