January 6, 2011

Proof That It's Just Lip Service (Updated)

This morning will be the new House of Representative's much-ballyhooed ceremonial reading of the Constitution. While some are trying to attack this new ritual as a waste of $1.1 million, I tend to agree with the idea that the money angle is not particularly relevant or intellectually honest. Rather, I think that the problem here is that the ceremony is inevitably fated to be devoid of substance, it will change nothing, and by making the Constitution an object of empty ritual, it will drain the actual meaning out of the document itself.

As proof, let Exhibit A be the efforts of Congressman Steve King of Iowa and Exhibit B the efforts of Daryl Metcalfe of Pennsylvania. Both would have Congress adopt into law statutes which would require that at least one parent of a child born in the geographic borders of the United States also be a citizen of the US in order for that child to also be a citizen. Remember, they're using statutes. Statutes changing the way citizenship is derived. Statutes aimed at "anchor babies" and the granting of citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants. Statutes introduced in to the House of Representatives on the very day that this phrase will be read out loud to the House as a reminder of a political commitment to respect the fundamental law of the United States:
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.
That would be the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Rep. King's and Metcalf's bills would, if enacted into law, contradict the Constitution. This is as close to a no-brainer as it gets.

King and Metcalf, if they really want to change the way citizenship is handed out, need to sponsor a resolution to amend the Constitution. They could do that, of course, but are choosing to do it by statute instead. Perhaps because they don't think they would succeed in amending the Constitution (or they secretly fear they would succeed), but more likely because they value putting on a show of taking a stand against an imagined threat with questionable basis in reality more than focusing their efforts on trying to solve real problems -- problems which Congress' new leaders find politically convenient to backpedal upon (read: "break") their promises to address.

So on the same day that this ceremonial reading of the Constitution is going to take place, it will be demonstrated to be an idle, empty ritual because no matter who controls Congress, no matter what rituals they hold, they will simply disregard the Constitution when it is politically convenient for them to do so. Which is why clear-eyed Americans should view this morning's proceedings as merely an empty ritual.

Update:  And it turns out, they're not even going to read the whole thing -- they're going to bowdlerize it to leave out the historically embarrassing parts. (Thanks to Ken for reminding me of that great word.) I'd say, "If you're going to do it at all, do it right," but the whole thing is already a charade.

8 comments:

Mike said...

Given the number of nations (many the "enlightened european nation" types the left wing loves to idolize) who have repealed their birthright citizenship clauses over the past few decades, it could be argued the US is just catching up to modern times.

Nations which have abolished birthright citizenship recently, many in response to illegal immigration problems:

India - The Citizenship Act 1986 abolished birthright citizenship. Cause: illegal immigration problem from Bangladesh.

Malta - Maltese Citizenship Act of 1989.

Australia - 2007 citizenship act. A person born in Australia is an Australian citizen if and only if: a) a parent of the person is an Australian citizen, or a permanent resident, at the time the person is born

New Zealand: 2005. Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2005.

Ireland: LAST European country to offer birthright citizenship. Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 2004 repealed it: "6A.—(1) A person born in the island of Ireland shall not be entitled to be an Irish citizen unless a parent of that person has, during the period of 4 years immediately preceding the person's birth, been resident in the island of Ireland for a period of not less than 3 years or periods the aggregate of which is not less than 3 years"

UK - British Nationality Act 1981 eliminated birthright citizenship.

Portugal - Article 1 of Act No. 37/81, enacted 1981.

France - Méhaignerie Act, 1993. Children born to noncitizens must go through the whole application process to become French citizens upon reaching age 16.

Germany: link.

I also suggest you familiarize yourself with some case law. The phrase subject to the jurisdiction thereof is highly important and carves out many exceptions to blanket "birthright citizenship." Among them:

It took the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 (aka "Snyder Act") to grant blanket citizenship to American Indian tribespeople.

Slaughter-House Cases, 83 U.S. 36 - the phrase "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" applies to deny citizenship to the children of foreign actors (diplomats, embassy agents and personnel, etc).

United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898) - established that a person who is born in the US, of persons legally in the country who have a permanent domicile and residence, and whose parents are there carrying on business and are NOT agents of the country of their citizenship, is in fact entitled to birthright citizenship. Key in this ruling was the fact that Wong Kim Ark's parents were legal immigrants to the US.

To grant citizenship to the children of illegal aliens is to violate a well-known legal principle, that persons should not profit from their crimes. If you go out and steal a car, or hold up a convenience store, you cannot give the car or money to your child and then claim that government reclaiming it on your arrest and conviction is "punishing" your child. Likewise, the citizenship being alleged to be the birthright of an illegal invader to be handed to their child, is the profit of a crime and ought not be granted.

Transplanted Lawyer said...

Our Constitution says what it says, which is that if you were born here, you're a citizen here. Compared to that, other nations' laws are irrelevant.

If you and Rep. King and Rep. Metcalfe want to see the U.S. law be more like those other nations, then you all should propose a Constitutional amendment, and not a statute.

An "anchor baby" is not a criminal. The Constitution has a prohibition against corruption of blood, too, so children of criminals should not be penalized for their parents' crimes. Again, if you want to change that, propose a Constitutional amendment.

I rather dislike the word "invaders," because these folks are as a rule not coming here with weapons. They're coming here to harvest our lettuce. IMO, those purposes are qualitatively different such that the term "invader" seems inappropriate.

Mike said...

An "anchor baby" is not a criminal. The Constitution has a prohibition against corruption of blood, too, so children of criminals should not be penalized for their parents' crimes.

But they should not be rewarded for their parents' crimes, either. Presence in the country, illegally obtained and illegally maintained, should not be justification to give citizenship to a child who is already LEGALLY, by the law of every nation that I am aware of, an inheritor of their parent's legal citizenship status elsewhere.

If the child of an illegal immigrant was not born in the US, we have no problem shipping them home with the lawbreaking parent. There's nary a peep about "punishing them for their parent's crime."

Again, I put it to you: what's the difference between an illegal alien invader stealing a car, or stealing from a bank, or knocking over a convenience store and then giving the money or ill-gotten proceeds to their child and then trying to claim it's "punishing the child" to take the ill-gotten goods away, versus the same when it comes to the ill-obtained commodity of citizenship?

Dan said...

Again, I put it to you: what's the difference between an illegal alien invader stealing a car, or stealing from a bank, or knocking over a convenience store and then giving the money or ill-gotten proceeds to their child and then trying to claim it's "punishing the child" to take the ill-gotten goods away, versus the same when it comes to the ill-obtained commodity of citizenship?

Well, for starters, when you steal from me or the bank or the store, all of us lose something tangible. If you've got my car, then I don't have it anymore. If you steal from my bank, then my bank has less cash to cover its withdrawals and give out as home loans. If you steal from the store, it has to raise prices on things I want to buy to cover the loss.

Citizenship for children born in the US does not take away anything from anyone. The citizenship of these so-called "anchor babies" does nothing to degrade or diminish mine or yours or anyone else's. You may feel that your vote is diluted a bit, I suppose, but you could correct that by moving to Montana where your vote will be much more powerful than those of any given immigrant's kid in California, Texas or Florida.

Now, I suppose you could also argue that these kids are freeloading by getting all the great stuff that comes with American citizenship. Fair enough. Which implies, of course, that you're willing to pay the much, much higher prices for your food (among other things) once we have to start paying American citizens more than the pittance that migrant workers are paid to pick it.

Transplanted Lawyer said...

Further to Dan's point, I do not consider citizenship a "commodity" and I suspect that upon reflection, you would not do so, either.

Commodities are things like tin, pork bellies, and soybeans. They are tangible -- you can pick up, slice, and cook pork bellies. Commodities are fungible -- one soybean is pretty much the same as another. Commodities possess monetary value -- a given quantity of tin may be bought or sold for a particular price at a particular time.

Citizenship is non-fungible (U.S. citizenship is not the same thing as Mexican citizens), intangible and invaluable.

Mike said...

No, citizenship is a commodity.

Commodities are things like tin, pork bellies, and soybeans. They are tangible -- you can pick up, slice, and cook pork bellies.

How do you judge "intellectual property" then? The physical tangibility of a commodity is irrelevant to whether or not it is a commodity.

Commodities are fungible -- one soybean is pretty much the same as another.

Citizenship is non-fungible (U.S. citizenship is not the same thing as Mexican citizens)


And one American citizenship is the same as another American citizenship. Citizenship, generally, confers the same rights to a citizen backed by the country to which the citizenship is tied, just as money (another COMMODITY) receives the backing of whatever nation issues it.

Like many commodities, each issuing group (nation) has its own rules on how and when said commodity will be issued. The fact that it is not "identical", nation-for-nation, in no way diminishes the fact that it is a commodity.

Commodities possess monetary value -- a given quantity of tin may be bought or sold for a particular price at a particular time.

Obviously you are not familiar with the money and effort that must spent for anyone to lawfully acquire citizenship in a new nation. The fact that there is a legal process that requires time and effort beyond "just" purchasing it at a corner store window does not make citizenship any less a commodity.

Now, go through the paperwork process and bring a foreign-born wife to the States, and I bet you will feel different about whether citizenship is both precious AND a commodity that should not be allowed to be just stolen by a bunch of leeching, thieving scofflaws.

congoerzeta said...

Dude.

I had to spend years and thousands of dollars to become a US citizen.

And you want to say citizenship isn't a commodity? That it should be given away to people just because they jumped a fence?

Citizenship is a commodity. I had to EARN it. I had to work for it. I had to pay significantly to get it. There is NO WAY IN HELL that it should just be given away to a bunch of criminals.

In conclusion, FUCK YOU.

Transplanted Lawyer said...

Congoerzeta -- I don't mind at all if you disagree with what I have to say and your viewpoint is welcome here even though it is opposed to my own.

But please keep it civil.

If you want to spew angry vulgarities about people who disagree with you, there are other places on the Internet where that sort of thing is welcome. That place is not here.

Saying "Fuck you" to me does not add anything to the substance of your argument. The strength of your emotions is irrelevant.

Oh, and don't claim that I censor opinions that disagree with my own, either, because that's not things roll around here. For example, Mike has made it abundantly clear that he thinks my position on this issue is very, very wrong. He's offered facts and logic and references to authority which he believes supports his position and we've had a lively exchange. He and I disagree. But I'm content not only to publish his remarks, but also to allow him the last word in our exchange. Why? He's comported himself in a civil way and contributed to the discussion of the issue.

I invite further comment from you on this and other issues -- regardless of your viewpoint -- but please mind your manners in the future. TIA.