Over the summer, Arizona’s papers please, anti-immigration law drew critic’s ire for the law’s racial profiling aspect and preposterous subjugating of Federal laws regarding border security. If SB 1070 wasn’t bad enough, Americans can brace themselves for the next assault on immigration and this time it is in the form of a challenge to the 14th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.
Arizona’s SB 1070 gave law enforcement the right to demand proof of citizenship from anyone suspected of being in the country illegally, and makes the failure to carry immigration documents a crime. The law gives the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally, and critics expressed their concern that any Latino risks being unfairly targeted based on the color of their skin. The law was spearheaded by Russell Pearce, and it has several provisions that are inherently discriminatory in that it requires police officers, “when practicable,” to detain people they reasonably suspect are in the country without authorization, and to verify their status with federal officials.
The problems with the law are that immigration and border security are the Federal government’s jurisdiction and that many racists in law enforcement will abuse the law and detain any Hispanic as a form of harassment. Now, Russell Pearce is taking his anti-immigrant war a step farther by targeting the children of immigrants born in the United States, and there are several states joining the attack on constitutionally guaranteed birthright citizenship in the 14th Amendment.
Legislators in several states are intent on coordinating their push for identical bills in state houses in an effort to challenge Federal law although they are not disclosing their exact approach. If passed, states could refuse to issue birth certificates to immigrant’s children, or deny benefits to children because under their proposed laws, the children will not be American citizens. The stated goal of Pearce and other anti-immigrant legislators is to bring the case to the Supreme Court so the constitutionality of the 14th Amendment can be challenged. How exactly they go about challenging the constitutionality of the Constitution is so bizarre of a concept, that it only could have its provenance in the conservative movement; of course, if it is bizarre enough, it must be a Republican-inspired idea.
The part of the 14th Amendment that proponents want the Supreme Court to overturn is the first sentence that says: “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.” It is fairly straight forward, and doesn’t sound like there is any duplicity in that one sentence, but that will not stop Republicans from challenging the constitutionality of the Constitution. The premise that Pearce and cohorts is questioning is whether unauthorized immigrants are “subject to the jurisdiction” of the federal and state governments. However, the 14th Amendment clearly says that “all persons born or naturalized…and subject to the jurisdiction” is a citizen. There is nothing unclear in the statement “all persons born…are citizens,” and the Republicans in Arizona know the Amendment is clear.
As far back as the 1800s, the Supreme Court has upheld the 14th Amendment and birthright citizenship. In an 1892 case, US v. Wong Kim Ark, the court ruled that the 14th Amendment “affirms the ancient and fundamental rule of citizenship by birth within the territory, in the allegiance and under the protection of the country, including all children born here of resident aliens.”
It is ultimately hypocritical for Republicans who claim to love and protect the Constitution to subvert the 14th Amendment to suit their hatred for immigrants, but hypocrisy is the hallmark of conservatives and especially Republicans. There is fear among Republicans that Hispanics will vote for Democrats, and despite their lies about resources immigrants take from America, or the crime they bring, it is the loss of white power they fear most.
Republicans are quietly fighting to maintain a white power base in America because they see the country is becoming homogenized into a beautiful melting pot of multi-cultural citizens and it frightens them. If the law allowed white bigots to exterminate Hispanics, Blacks, Asians, and gays, there would be a holocaust that would make Adolph Hitler’s Nazis jealous. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will not have to hear a case to determine the constitutionality of the Constitution, and if it does, there are none in this country who are citizens; because at some point in every American’s lineage, they were born of immigrants who were not yet citizens. This outrage is just another in a long line of Republican and conservative’s attempts at destroying the Constitution, so in a way, it is not surprising that they would try to test the constitutionality of the United States’ Constitution.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.