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More on the 14th Amendment Citizenship Law

Good dialog on this topic over at Volokh.

UPDATE: Why I love my commenters. From the comments, probably the best case for 14th Amendment birthright citizenship I think I’ve seen:

I think the 14th Amendment’s greatest gift to the country has been in preventing us from creating a permanently disenfranchised class of people in our midst. The lesson of watching Palestinians dancing in the streets as the Iraqi tanks rolled in back in ’90 shows what can happen when you base your economic system (and by extension your political system) on people who are not allowed to ever enjoy the benefits of it. And make no mistake that “we,” as a country, have definitely decided to let illegal aliens in; we’re not so helpless as we pretend. Today illegal immigrants are mainly Mexicans who work in the industries (agriculture, canning, and increasingly construction and landscaping) we’ve decided are best staffed by underpaid workers whose wages and benefits are kept low by denying them access to jobs in other sectors or to legal recourse when they get ripped off. Without the 14th Amendment, their children would forever be stuck in the predicament, making our agricultural “caste system” permanent, like in most of Europe (Gypsies, Turks, etc.) Our 14th Amendment stops us from re-instituting hereditary slavery under another name, though we know many would try to if they could (see: Irish, Chinese, etc.)

First Comment. Read the whole thing.

8 Responses to “More on the 14th Amendment Citizenship Law”

  1. Sage Thrasher says:

    I think the 14th Amendment’s greatest gift to the country has been in preventing us from creating a permanently disenfranchised class of people in our midst. The lesson of watching Palestinians dancing in the streets as the Iraqi tanks rolled in back in ’90 shows what can happen when you base your economic system (and by extension your political system) on people who are not allowed to ever enjoy the benefits of it. And make no mistake that “we,” as a country, have definitely decided to let illegal aliens in; we’re not so helpless as we pretend. Today illegal immigrants are mainly Mexicans who work in the industries (agriculture, canning, and increasingly construction and landscaping) we’ve decided are best staffed by underpaid workers whose wages and benefits are kept low by denying them access to jobs in other sectors or to legal recourse when they get ripped off. Without the 14th Amendment, their children would forever be stuck in the predicament, making our agricultural “caste system” permanent, like in most of Europe (Gypsies, Turks, etc.) Our 14th Amendment stops us from reinstituting hereditary slavery under another name, though we know many would try to if they could (see: Irish, Chinese, etc.)

    The real problem with immigration is that collectively we don’t want to stop illegal aliens, we only want to keep them in certain sectors. The evidence of this is that we decided to make employers who break the law exempt from punishment. As Arizona has discovered, the 1986 amnesty bill effectively prevents state governments from imposing criminal penalties on those who cause immigration in the first place–people whose entire business model is predicated on no-benefits employees who will work in appalling conditions for wages that Americans simply can’t survive on (and these people live very, very poorly.) Of course, supply & demand being what it is, this tolerance of off-the-books workers undermines American wages and is spreading to other industries whose owners also want a piece of the action.

    The only way to stop illegal immigration is to deny illegal aliens jobs by prosecuting the people employing them. When THAT happens, I’ll believe we’ve gotten serious as a nation; until then, it all seems like smoke & mirrors to keep people down, but not out, at least not as long as the groceries stay cheap.

    Don’t blame the 14th Amendment–blame our bipartisan lack of will power to control corrupt businesses.

  2. Alpheus says:

    That’s pretty much how I feel–except for the “blame the business” part. Sometimes businesses are surprised to find out who of their employees are illegal! And sometimes businesses are trying to get around burdensome regulations.

    In talking about this with my wife yesterday, I brought up the question: what becomes of the grandchild of a child who was born in America, from illegal parents? At what point do we grant someone citizenship?

  3. mariner says:

    Who is “we”, Sage Thrasher?

    A substantial majority of Americans are in favor of both legal immigration and strict enforcement of immigration laws. They’ve been repeatedly given the finger by our elected and unelected representatives for a while now.

    Automatic citizenship for people here illegally is good for those who want, in the end, to erase any meaningful distinction between citizens and non-citizens of the United States.

    “Palestinians” are prisoners of their own hatred of Jews — they are not analogous in any way to Mexicans illegally crossing the southern border. To bring them into this discussion is disingenuous at best.

  4. DirtCrashr says:

    Interesting topic since I’ve been going-over and re-working some of my earlier material for publication, and I’m again struggling with the Hindu Caste-System – a racist means of internal repression and the creation of a virtual slave-class that has lasted over two-thousand years and sees no end…

    All the big Democrats up here in Nor-Cal enjoy the fruits of cheap domestic labor, from the households to the restaurants it’s a part of the blind-eye they ostensibly condemn.

  5. MJM says:

    Thoughtful discussion. However, I am not in favor of criminalizing yet another morally neutral behavior: hiring a Mexican illegal alien (or selling merchandise to him, renting to him, providing medical care to him, giving him a ride if you see his car broken down on the highway, etc.). Business people from CEO to independent contractor plumber already labor under layer upon layer of regulation and statute, fine and penalty. Most Americans have no idea how much law already presses down on anyone who tries to do enterprise in this country. Our federal government has failed to do its job; why turn that failure into one more burden on those American citizens who employ others?

    The ghost of Marx moving among us has propagandized against “business” for decades, to the point that punishing businesses is knee-jerk high sport for many, and a subtle influence for the mainstream. I agree with much of what Sage T wrote; However, I am weary of governments at all levels seeming to be utterly determined to destroy the person who engages in enterprise at any level other than “employee.”

    Prosecute the people who employ them, Sage T? Wow. Think about that for a minute. Bring the power of the government to bear against an American citizen, throw him into jail, ruin him economically, take his liberty? Really? You conclude, generalizing broadly about “corrupt” businesses.

    Let’s find another way. I’m unwilling to accept that making it a crime for an American to employ (feed, treat, rent to, assist, teach, or sell to.) an illegal alien is the “only” way.

  6. Sage Thrasher says:

    Illegal aliens have nothing to lose. There are no penalties that will keep them out. However, without jobs to come to, they would have no reason to come. There’s a big difference between a restaurant owner who accidentally hires one illegal busboy and a Libby’s cannery that is staffed 100% by them. In the latter case, the cannery owners are abusing American law and American workers, and they are doing so intentionally in order to pay the going rate for wages & benefits. Those here who advocate giving businesses a free ride when it comes to labor laws should explain themselves.

    Arizona is right now trying to stop the flood of aliens into that state by taking away the business licenses of repeat offenders. The case is due to come before the Supreme Court soon because the unfortunate 1986 amnesty bill more or less took away the state’s ability to enforce labor laws, at the same time the federal government decided not to. Hopefully the right of the states to at the very least stop criminals from running illegal sweatshops in their states will be restored soon.

  7. Sage Thrasher says:

    My last word on this: if you’ve hired an illegal alien to work in your store, your yard, your home, etc. then you are part of the problem.

  8. Alpheus says:

    “If you’ve hired an illegal alien to work in your store, your yard, your home, etc. then you are part of the problem.”

    I have to agree with MJM: the employees and employers aren’t the problem. If you’ve supported all those layers upon layers of regulation, it is you who are a part of the problem. Similarly, if you’ve accepted welfare from the state.

    We’ve put so many regulations in place, that in order for some people to get anything done, they feel a need to resort to hiring illegal aliens…or opening factories overseas…or just giving up on their dreams, however small those dreams may have been.

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