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.
--The Fourteenth Amendment, U.S. Constitution
It's probably not a shocker that I'm a liberal person. Still, I always had a healthy respect for the libertarian viewpoint. I thought it was based on principles (e.g., less government, fewer regulations, control of one's reproductive choices, etc.) rather than the virulent fear and hatred that fuels so much of the modern Republican Party.
I even tried to give Senate candidate Rand Paul the benefit of the doubt for his truly idiotic and potentially dangerous statement that private businesses can discriminate based on race.
"He's just being a hardcore libertarian," I thought. "He can't be that racist."
Then Paul let loose with his latest conservative broadside. He said that the children of illegal immigrants who are born in the United States should not be granted citizenship.
With that comment, it's difficult to ignore Paul's implication that, in his opinion, the United States has way too many Latinos. There is no principle here.
Paul, and anyone who agrees with him, has to be willing to ignore the Constitution's unambiguous statement that everyone born here is a citizen. They also have to be eager to overturn decades of court precedents, an action that would require a decision from a monumentally activist judge (one of those guys I thought conservatives hated).
Still, plenty of conservatives have championed the anti-birthright position in recent years, despite the right wing's oft-stated love of the U.S. Constitution.
By the way, here's a study question for all social conservatives: If forced to chose, do you revere the words of the Constitution or the Bible more? As a follow-up, have you read either one?
But back to the topic at hand, which is anchor babies.
Randy Terrill, a Republican state representative in Oklahoma who is trying to get an anti-birthright bill passed, says that in a worst-case scenario, "Children of invading armies would be considered citizens of the U.S."
I must admit that I had never thought of this. In Terrill's grim assessment of our future, invading armies (from some unknown or unnamed country) send brigade after brigade of pregnant soldiers to charge our front lines. Hesitant to fire upon the rampaging moms-to-be, our soldiers let them wobble in and overrun the nation. Support troops, perhaps infantry women in their second trimester, manage to crawl under the barbed wire or hop the fence without putting pressure on their swollen bellies.
Mere months later, the soldiers start giving birth. These pseudo-citizens are then granted citizenship, and the United States falls to the invading hordes. It's truly evil genius.
Now, I've written before about the concept of revoking citizenship upon birth, and I expressed my support for amending the Constitution... as long as we really go for it. That is, let's reject citizenship for everyone born here, whether or not the parent is an undocumented worker or a ninth-generation American. Every child is a legal resident, but can't become a citizen until he or she passes a basic test -- the way naturalized citizens do.
For some reason, this idea has never caught on.
The truth is that we just don't want Maria from Mexico to give birth to a kid inside the California border, then have to call the offspring a citizen. So by all means, let's ignore those sections of the Constitution that we don't like.
But could we try not to pretend that there's anything like principles or consistency on display? They are simply not present in this debate.