Friday, August 21, 2015

Response to Incitement

(See: Just Above Sunset: Incitement)

Ted Cruz is really against birthright citizenship?
"I welcome Donald Trump articulating this view," said Texas senator Ted Cruz. "It is a view I have long held." Cruz, in an interview on the Michael Medved radio show, made his position clear: "We should end granting automatic birthright citizenship to the children of those who are here illegally." 
The presidential candidate acknowledged that a change in the law would be a heavy lift, saying "I think it is possible, but any constitutional amendment by its nature is difficult to achieve."
Yes, it is, and maybe even as difficult as what Donald Trump seems to be proposing -- that a president could just proceed on the presumption that the 14th Amendment doesn't mean to grant citizenship to children born to parents here illegally, and then let the Supreme Court decide the case when it gets around to it.

I would think that, in practical terms, this wouldn't happen -- that, in fact, the court would stay such a president from making any quick moves until it had decided whether or not those moves violated the Constitution. Plus, it should be noted, Trump might not be the first to be caught flatfooted by a court he assumes would be on his side. So much for rounding up Latinos “very quickly” to deport them. 

But you'd think Cruz would know he's playing with fire when he takes the view that we should reexamine who gets to be a citizen here. Doesn't he understand that the citizenship of someone born abroad to an American mother -- someone like himself -- might be on shakier ground than anyone born on American soil? Wouldn't it be ironical justice coming back to bite him if a whole review of citizenship ended up sweeping him back to where he came from, across the northern border? This is especially possible, one would think, from a President Trump, who for some reason gambled so much of his own reputation on trying to prove Barack Obama was born in Kenya.

Cruz's posture in this is especially puzzling when you consider that he himself very easily could have been considered a "passport baby" while in Canada, their version of our "anchor baby". And it might be doubly difficult for him, since he has since renounced his Canadian citizenship, making him a man without a country.

Also, now there's such a fuss over the term "anchor baby". Even Jeb Bush, who insists he's against Trump's "anti-birthright" idea, snapped back at a questioner at a New Hampshire gathering who had asked him if he regretted using the term:
"No, I don't. I don't regret it," Bush said sharply, growing testy with a questioner while talking to reporters. Pressed further, a more agitated Bush fired off: "No, do you have a better term? OK, you give me, you give me a better term and I'll use it. I'm serious."
Trump himself had given a similar answer the night before to a reporter who asked if he knew the term was offensive:
"You mean it's not politically correct, and yet everybody uses it?" Trump said. "You know what? Give me a different term."
"Unicorn"! How about "unicorn"?

I pick that word not only because it's even shorter than "anchor baby" but because it's one that also seems to be describing something that exists, but that is actually only mythical. For all we know, there may be no such animal as an "anchor baby", or at least, like instances of so-called "voter fraud", in any number to be statistically significant:
There is a popular misconception that the child's U.S. citizenship status (acquired by jus soli) legally helps the child's parents and siblings to quickly reclassify their visa status (or lack thereof) and to place them on a fast pathway to acquire lawful permanent residence and eventually United States citizenship. This is a myth. Current U.S. federal law prevents anyone under the age of 21 from being able to petition for their non-citizen parent to be lawfully admitted into the United States for permanent residence. ... 
Statistics show that a significant, and rising, number of illegal aliens are having children in the United States, but there is mixed evidence that acquiring citizenship for the parents is their goal. According to PolitFact of the St. Petersburg Times, the immigration benefits of having a child born in the United States are limited. Citizen children cannot sponsor parents for entry into the country until they are 21 years of age, and if the parent had ever been in the country illegally, they would have to show they had left and not returned for at least ten years ... 
Parents of citizen children who have been in the country for ten years or more can also apply for relief from deportation, though only 4,000 persons a year can receive relief status; as such, according to PolitFact, having a child in order to gain citizenship for the parents is "an extremely long-term, and uncertain, process."
We also need to remind ourselves that this whole arcane question of "anchor babies" is just a tiny piece of the bigger answer that is hopefully forthcoming from Donald Trump and his acolytes, and that being to the question of how much harm vs good illegal immigrants are even doing this country in the first place, since it has already been shown that (a) whatever crimes they commit are, on average, fewer than the rest of us, and (b) whatever cost, if any, they are to us is, at most, minimal, and (c) they are here spending money and paying many of our taxes anyway. (And yes, they're not paying Social Security, but nor are they receiving Social Security benefits.)

But rather than going through the whole arduous process of changing the Constitution, or even an equally lengthy and probably futile attempt to test the 14th Amendment in the courts, maybe we might spend that time and effort more profitably by reeducating any immigrants who are headed our way, and who might be mistakenly thinking that coming here to give birth to a mythical "anchor baby" will somehow help them.

And hey, while we're at it, maybe we could also educate Republicans on the difference between reality and mythology.

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