Birthright Citizenship: Start Packing
Two imbeciles from South Boston this past week pissed on a homeless man, and then beat the shit out of him. Get a load of what happened,
The homeless man was lying on the ground, shaking, when police arrived early Wednesday. His face was soaked, apparently with urine, his nose broken, his chest and arms battered.
Police said two brothers from South Boston ambushed the 58-year-old as he slept outside of a Dorchester MBTA stop, and targeted him because he is Hispanic. One of the brothers said he was inspired in part by GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Forget, for a moment, the fact that “Hispanic” could mean the guy is Puerto Rican – an American citizen at birth from one of our colonial territories. Either way – regardless of his nationality – the victim is documented. Here’s how Trump responded to this vicious assault done in his name,
When Trump was asked about the Aug. 19 assault in Boston, the billionaire New Yorker reportedly said, “It would be a shame … I will say that people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want this country to be great again. They are passionate.”
Get that? Trump spends weeks demonizing Hispanic immigrants, two numbskulls beat the shit out of one and invoke Trump’s name, and Trump calls them “passionate” people who “love this country…want this country to be great again.”
Calling that depraved isn’t nearly strong enough. This is incitement. Irresponsible. Un-American. Donald Trump is setting the US up for an anti-Hispanic pogrom. He tried to amend his reaction on Twitter:
Boston incident is terrible. We need energy and passion, but we must treat each other with respect. I would never condone violence.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 21, 2015
Over the past couple of decades at least, Republicans have managed to pull off something of a public relations feat. They purport to love America – love our Constitution, think ours is the best country in the world. Except they don’t. That’s why Donald Trump, whose campaign slogan is synonymous with “America is horrible” is surging.
This has long been a right-wing trope hurled at liberals; that we hate America because we might seek certain changes to our society, politics, law, and economy. It’s just as ridiculous, incidentally, to accuse right-wingers of hating America because they might also seek changes that happen to differ. But Trump has taken the “America sucks” label and made it a campaign slogan.
There’s a difference between saying America is great but has room for improvement, and Trump’s slogan-equivalent of “America isn’t great anymore”. Alas, his slogan hits a particular nerve with the people who feel threatened and afraid, and some are responding positively to him. Whether it’s Obamacare, same-sex marriage, or anything in-between, some people are nostalgic for an America that probably never existed.
But Trump’s initial explicit approval of racial violence isn’t funny. Inciting a pogrom isn’t funny. Trump is unlikely ever to be President, but with each passing day, he further disqualifies himself.
Substantively, Trump is calling for the end of birthright citizenship; the Latin phrase is “jus soli”, or “right of the soil”. Trump reveals himself as a typical right-wing cafeteria Constitutionalist, picking and choosing the parts he thinks are important and worth protecting.
Birthright citizenship is enshrined in the Constitution. So far not just Trump, but even Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, and Scott Walker would abolish or amend it. Specifically, this “Party of Lincoln” wants to get rid of the 14th Amendment – one of the most important legacies of Reconstruction.
The 14th Amendment was ratified just after the end of the Civil War, and granted citizenship to, “all persons born or naturalized in the United States,” including, most importantly, former slaves. The 14th Amendment also prohibits the states from denying, “life, liberty or property, without due process of law” or to “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” It was a huge expansion of civil rights to all Americans.
Republican front-runners want it gone.
Pursuant to the 14th Amendment, any baby born on American soil is automatically an American citizen. It has been this way since at least pre-Revolutionary times and was first found in English Common Law. Jus soli applied prior to the 14th Amendment, but only to non-slaves. Jus soli is typical throughout the former colonies of the entire Western Hemisphere.
The alternative is “jus sanguinis”, which is citizenship based on nationality and blood. “American” isn’t a “nationality” in the historic sense. Americans are not bound by ethnicity or religion. Instead, our nationality comes from our citizenship and/or allegiance. Said another way, “French” is a nationality and also an ethnicity. A baby born in the US to two people of French ethnicity is entitled to American and French citizenship from birth. The same goes for most every European and Asian nation-state.
America started as jumble of European colonies, and we’ve continued to bring in immigrants of myriad ethnicities to make up our newfangled type of nation. The citizens of countries of Europe and Asia, by contrast, are bound not just by the contents of their passports, but also through ethnicity or language or religion. (There are, obviously, exceptions. Countries that had been colonized are not homogeneous – think Iraq, Afghanistan, or Burma. In Europe, there are a small number of multi-ethnic states such as Switzerland and Belgium).
As it stands, I’m entitled to Croatian citizenship through jus sanguinis. Under jus soli, I was an American citizen at birth, despite the fact that my parents were recent immigrants with Yugoslav passports.
So, in the event that one of these revisionist conservatives – including Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal, both of whom directly benefited from jus soli (Cruz in Canada) – becomes President, I’ve begun the process of dealing with the possible retroactive rescission of my American citizenship. Ted Cruz had better start looking for Canadian real estate, and Bobby Jindal’s opportunities back home in Punjab are likely better than they were in 1971, when he was born in Louisiana to recent immigrants.
Donald Trump – German by nationality with a fake, phony Americanized name – took to Fox News to rail against what he called “anchor babies”, which is a handy way of literally blaming infants for a crime.
Trump plans to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, and he plans to implement this insane scheme by tripling the number of ICE agents, presumably because he’s going to need a lot of enforcers to round up all the families he needs to deport.
And last but pretty damned far from least, Trump says he’s basically going to either repeal or ignore the 14th amendment to the US Constitution, because he’s planning to end birthright citizenship. His plan doesn’t spell out exactly how he’d accomplish this, probably because he knows it’s never going to happen in the real world.
In fact, none of this is ever going to happen in the real world, and if Trump becomes president and actually tries to make it happen, it would involve turning the United States into a full-blown police state.
But I guess that prospect is attractive to conservatives.
So far the only thing missing is Huckabee telling everyone how jus sanguinis is part of Jesus’ plan for America.
Some on the ultra-right who think Trump has a great idea have convinced themselves that abolition of jus soli in America wouldn’t require a Constitutional Amendment. Breitbartistan is all over this line of thinking. They point to the italicized text of this 14th Amendment clause, “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.” So, for instance, because a diplomat in the United States enjoys certain immunities pursuant to custom and treaty, he is not “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States, and any child born of a diplomat in the US is not entitled to jus soli. This is codified, in fact to apply not only to diplomats, but to heads of state and foreign POWs.
They extrapolate from this, (and use some earlier 19th century case law to do it), that this also applies to any foreign national whatsoever. If you are, “subject to any foreign power”; i.e., immigrant – legal or otherwise, dual citizen, your offspring is not entitled to jus soli. They also argue that foreigners are not “subject to the jurisdiction” of the US, although that is patently false in both law and common sense. If a tourist can be arrested under American law for committing a crime, he’s “subject to the jurisdiction” of the US. If an immigrant must obtain a driver’s license to drive a car that he’s registered with a state DMV, he is “subject to the jurisdiction” of the US.
By the way, Ted Cruz thinks you’re stupid. Here’s what he said about birthright citizenship in 2011 – just four years ago.
“The 14th Amendment provides for birthright citizenship. I’ve looked at the legal arguments against it, and I will tell you as a Supreme Court litigator, those arguments are not very good,” he said. “As much as someone may dislike the policy of birthright citizenship, it’s in the U.S. Constitution. And I don’t like it when federal judges set aside the Constitution because their policy preferences are different.”
So, you, too, may have to prepare for the day when the Republicans abolish the 14th Amendment and attempt perhaps retroactively to rescind millions of Americans’ citizenship. With that amendment out of the way, it could arguably done without due process of law. The possibilities are endless in terms of making the US just a little less ethnic. This may soon be the real prepper movement – 1st and 2nd generation Americans born to non-citizens making arrangements for deportation.
Over the last few decades, the Republican Party has become not so much a big tent of conservative economic theories and values, but a para-fascist, predominately Southern strain of white identity politics. It might be time for thinking conservatives to find a new home and leave the GOP to history’s dustbin, or perhaps to purge the more reactionary element from its mainstream. Not my problem, though – it merely reinforces my decision to abandon it over a decade ago. If I was a reasonable Republican, I’d be looking at this Trump surge and I’d be not at all happy by what it represents. If I happened to be a 1st generation American and a Republican, I’d be running for the damn hills.
Hey, maybe Canada will take us in?