Wednesday, May 27, 2009

On 'birthright citizenship'

Writing for from Atlanta, Ewa Kochanska (what is that, Russian?) reports on a Georgia Congressman's amendment proposal aimed at ending so-called 'birthright citizenship' for children born on U.S. soil to alien parents.

Ewa Kochanska writes:

Congressman Nathan Deal, who’s running on the Republican ticket for Governor of Georgia, has called for a change to the 14th Amendment known as “birth right citizenship” which grants an automatic citizenship to any child born on U.S. soil.

The 14th Amendment was ratified on July 9, 1868 to protect the rights of freed slaves:

“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; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Deal argues that the founding fathers never meant for this Amendment to help illegal immigrants stay in America.

I don't want to get too nitpicky, but that last line in the excerpt above sticks out like a sore thumb. Of course the founding fathers had nothing to do with the fourteenth amendment, and I hardly think that Congressman Deal argues otherwise. No; that's Ewa putting words in the Congressman's mouth. I imagine his argument is that the framers of the fourteenth did not intend that the amendment be used to help illegals stay in America, or something to that effect.

Ewa continues:

The immigration laws are often difficult to enforce when dealing with people who have raised families on the U.S. soil, but they never established a legal status. The authorities are frequently placed in a morally troubled position when they have to deport a breadwinner of a large family where he or she is the only one with an illegal immigration status. The issue becomes even more pronounced when both of the parents are in U.S. illegally, but their children are citizens. A lot of immigration agencies and human rights groups called the separation of families inhumane and un-American as well as bad for the economy; if a large family loses their only breadwinner they all end up on welfare.

Representative Deal and his supporters propose that a child born in U.S. should be granted a citizenship only if at least one of the parents is a citizen, legal permanent resident (legal immigrant), or serving in U.S. military.

On the U.S. soil? A child born in U.S.? A slip of the tongue like that can be excused once, but she does it over and over again in the article such as when she says "The issue becomes even more pronounced when both of the parents are in U.S. illegally,..." Ewa, what dialect of the English are you speaking?

Well, anyway, I was going to say something about (American) birthright citizenship. Ewa's article goes on to list some of the countries that have their own birthright citizenship clauses. Nice company we're keeping. But as I've said before, I don't care for the idea of 'birthright citizenship' for anyone, including the children of American citizens. I suppose the argument in favor of birthright citizenship for the children of natives involves the idea that these children are raised and educated to be patriotic, Constitution-loving Americans. Therefore, they should be granted citizenship by birth alone exclusive to all others. Certainly the children of natives ought to be given preference over the children of non-natives. But isn't citizenship also a choice?; a choice to be made by the individual himself, not one that we should be making for him?

Here's an idea:

Make citizenship for natives contingent upon the individual's will and his desire to become a full U.S. citizen. So he doesn't get around to making his application until he's thirty five. So what? Certainly he would be given preference over everyone else applying for citizenship based on the fact that he is native born. He would also qualify as a 'natural born' citizen, because he is himself native born, birthed by native born parents. (Awesome!, he's still eligible to be president, albeit not until he's almost fifty. What injustice!)

I know, I know, it ain't ever gonna happen. I guy can wish, though, can't he?


chiu_chunling said...

I'd rather that we make the individual's desire to remain a U.S. citizen contingent on commitment to the underlying principles of the republic, rather than other considerations.

I'd much rather that nobody got welfare benefits from being a citizen than that we denied citizenship to anyone with the fortune to be born in our borders. In fact, I'd prefer that nobody got welfare benefits from the government, period. So maybe I'm saying that the problem is having a welfare state just because I don't like the welfare state. But I still don't think that we should pay people just to live here. It's not that bad a country, on the whole.

Of course, welfare isn't the only thing that distorts the proper motivation to citizenship. It would also help if we had a government worthy of allegiance. I'm in something of an awkward position on this point now, as it happens. I regard the current government as being entirely illegitimate, and thus could be considered as having rejected citizenship. Certainly, I don't particularly wish to enjoy any of the dubious privileges that are now offered as the incentives to citizenship.

When the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, did it embarrass them to thus renounce their status as citizens of England? As they said, it was because the Crown had already stripped them of all the traditional privileges of citizenship. But they were willing to stake their lives, liberty, and sacred honor on something.

I can't match their stake. I already ceded life and liberty, and I didn't have any honor to begin with. So basically I'm left with saying that America can go begging for my allegiance. I gave it, America squandered it. What's done is done. I had bitter feelings about it for a while, but now those are dried up too. Loyalty never really worked with my 'idiom' anyway. Like wearing plaid and pinstripes together, I shudder to remember how silly I probably looked.

Terry Morris said...


Yes, we agree; the welfare state creates and enables dependency. And a dependent people is neither capable, nor is it deserving, of liberty.

But besides creating dependency, or, generational dependency as it were, on the one hand, it's also very enticing to those who are predisposed to dependency in the first place. And I'm not just talking about dependency for subsistence, I'm talking about dependency on government to be our great protector.

If the spirit of independency, and of individual self-government (self-control; self-restraint primarily) is not revived in this country, we are, in a word, doomed.

chiu_chunling said...

Huh. Your site just ate my post. Good thing it was a short post.

Anyway, collectivists are doomed by the failure of their collective, individualists will survive. A collective can only survive if it has a clear definition of who is and is not a member of the collective, regardless of whether that collective is collectivist or individualist. The collective of America was founded on certain very definite principles (including individualism), and the abandonment of those principles (individualism, law, democracy, borders, limited government) will destroy the collective unless it can completely reinvent its theoretical justification.

Which is impossible because there are so many different ideas competing to be recognized as the principles of the collective (the original ideals near the bottom of the heap by now).

America has become a victim of its own success, the vast wealth and power generated by a nation committed to the freedom and independence of the individual has attracted and fed all the parasites who embrace a collectivist view because it absolves them of personal responsibility.

What I can't understand is how a people dedicated to the ideal of liberty ever fell into the trap of feeding the self-chosen dependency of those who hate freedom. It just makes no sense to me.

Terry Morris said...

Chiu, you wrote:

"What I can't understand is how a people dedicated to the ideal of liberty ever fell into the trap of feeding the self-chosen dependency of those who hate freedom. It just makes no sense to me."

I have a theory on that:

First of all, it was by degrees that we fell into that trap. It wasn't something that happened overnight. Such things rarely do.

Second, as people become 'successful', they tend to forget where they came from and how they got where they are. Look at the way individuals generally handle success, particularly when it requires little effort on their parts to achieve it.

I think you're right that America is a victim of its own success. At some point along the way it began to turn its attention away from its own preservation and perpetuation, and the things necessary to maintain it. It began to look outwardly and to somehow see in others the same desire and capability for self-government that fostered its own success. It has only held together as long as it has because the majority population has not yet been displaced. But we see that now happening at breakneck speed, and so will the love of liberty (and liberty itself) go with it.

chiu_chunling said...

Hmmm...I see the process you describe, but I still don't really understand it. I guess the key point is that people tend to forget that they are dependent on God for every good thing, including the chances to develop one's own abilities through struggle and effort. I would hesitate to say that I'm really properly grateful for God's hand in my own life, but I find it hard to ignore.

It may have something to do with the tendency of people to seek out those who are like themselves. Associating mainly with similar persons, perhaps it is easier to lapse into the belief that God has taken no special interest in one's life. Or maybe I just have no idea what I'm talking about. Shouldn't it be easier for people strongly bonded to a community to feel that God takes an interest in them? At least collectively if not individually.

Even leaving God can Americans view the enormous disparity between their prosperity and that of any other nation and not understand that it has something to do with the principles of personal freedom and responsibility? The mind boggles, or at least mine does. Do Americans think, like cargo cultists, that this wealth simply fell out of the sky because of our brightly colored flags?

Or is it simply a lack of thought and reflection? This I understand least of all, but at least it isn't something that needs to make any sense.

In any case, whether or not I understand how, it has happened. Learn from the past, plan for the future, but live in the present.

What what must be.

Terry Morris said...

"Even leaving God can Americans view the enormous disparity between their prosperity and that of any other nation and not understand that it has something to do with the principles of personal freedom and responsibility?"

I don't know, but I theorize that a good portion of that success and prosperity is inherited. Thus the old adage "easy come, easy go" would apply it seems. But as I've said before, you can't change the ingredients and expect to end up with the same kind of pie. Whenever you start to arbitrarily tamper with the ingredients, get ready to end up with a concoction that not even a self-respecting dog would eat.

"Do Americans think, like cargo cultists, that this wealth simply fell out of the sky because of our brightly colored flags?"

Well, in a sense, yes. I can't tell you how many times I've corrected people over the years for saying that "we are lucky in the United States" when making a comparison between us and other peoples and nations. If such people were to fly over Phoenix AZ., following the same mindset, I'm convinced that they'd never make the connection between the green in the landscape of the city (as opposed to the surrounding area), and the labor that created and maintains it.

A couple of weeks prior to the late election, I was involved in a disturbing conversation in which a young local lady admitted on the one hand (after I pointed it out to her) that America is the greatest nation on the earth, enjoys the most prosperity, the most freedom, and so forth. On the other hand, however, she argued that "America has always been run by white Christian men, and that this has to change (sound familiar?) before they/we drive it into the ground." Talk about boggling the mind.

chiu_chunling said... that actually makes a good bit of sense to me. Most of these people hate America out of simple bigotry. I feel rather silly for overlooking something so obvious.

If you look only at white, Christian males (and none of these new-age "God is concupiscence", "Jesus said we should love sin" types need apply), the hate America thing is really rare. Even when these people vote for...well, Democrats. And when you add "rich" to that list....

It isn't like every non-Christian, non-white, non-male, or non-wealthy person is so bigoted. But when you accumulate all of those categories, it suddenly doesn't take a high percentage of bigots to end up with a lot of bigotry.

It is the perennial problem of any truly Christian community, committed Christians always spend too much time trying not to be bigoted themselves to pay proper attention to the simple fact that most non-Christians don't regard their own bigotry as wrong.

I should probably not be happy about my lack of commitment to being a good Christian. And in fact here I just demonstrated that not being a good Christian doesn't mean I don't have a giant blind spot when it comes to bigotry. But I have to say, being a Christian definitely falls under the category of Blessed with Suck sometimes.

So yeah, you can build the greatest nation ever because of your goodness...but your innocence will leave you blind to the danger which will finally bring you down.