Thursday, August 12, 2010

Stop and Drop

In yet another move to show their hostility towards people who do not look like the rank and file they claim to represent, (but stop short of just admitting they represent), a few Republicans are playing a dangerous game with the 14th Amendment. They say that they are trying to stem illegal immigration, but this comes dangerously close to altering the amendment that granted African Americans their citizenship.

Do you remember the Dred Scott decision? Well when the 13th Amendement was ratified in 1865, ending Slavery in the U.S. It was the 14th Amendment that ensured black citizenship when it was ratified in 1868. In Dred Scott v. Sandford (not to be confused with Fred Sanford) the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Roger "Hang em high" Taney, did more than ensure that a slave who entered "free" territory could not become free (1850). Justice Taney went even further and held that no blacks, whether slave or "free", could be citizens of the United States. In one fell swoop, the Court divested even free blacks of citizenship.

Thus, it wasn't enough to abolish slavery after the Civil War. Nor would it have been enough to grant citizenship to former slaves. Instead, the 14th Amendment's birthright-citizenship provision overturned Dred Scott by guaranteeing citizenship to all born on U.S. soil, dismantling Justice Taney's thesis that descendants of black slaves could never be citizens.

There are, of course, scores of Supreme Court decisions that have since affirmed the citizenship rights of African Americans in the U.S., but the decisions of a Supreme Court must be grounded in provisions of the Constitution. The historical significance of the birthright provision to African American citizenship cannot be overstated.

Any attempt to "re-examine" this provision, especially to address a set of concerns about immigration that could easily be handled by a Congress willing to put the interests of the country ahead of political gamesmanship that certain Republicans want to play, should be of concern to all Americans.

Republican Senator Graham and a few others are "concerned" that undocumented immigrants are coming over here and "purposely" having babies, what they call "Anchor Babies", so that they can stay in the United States. The Anchor babies, having been born here, are automatically U.S. citizens and therefore, the undocumented immigrant now has to stay. They are calling it the ol' "Stop and Drop" routine. These are the same people who gave us the term "Welfare Queen" back in the 70's and 80's. Knowing this, I'm always a bit skeptical when they come up with one of their conspiracy theories. You know, like "Weapons of Mass Destruction". By the way, has anybody found one of them yet?

Getting back to this... either illegal immigrants are coming here purposely having children so they can stay or they are having children and leaving. Who knows? Do you know? I don't... and I don't know if this is the widespread conspiracy or problem these Senators are trying to make it either. I certainly don't think they need to be analyzing the 14th amendment or talking about challenging just what makes a U.S. citizen.

They are feeding this story to the Tea Party crowd and to an assorted group of empty heads hooked on reality TV who just might buy it and that's what is scary. I have to wonder if soon we will be policing maternity wards and questioning an expectant mother's citizenship. Don't laugh... it might not be that far away. Just look at what they are trying to do in Arizona and New Mexico.

The prospect of policing maternity wards to identify and deport newborns of undocumented immigrant parents makes the idea of repealing the birthright-citizenship provisions of the 14th Amendment repugnant enough. What's been most galling about the cavalier suggestion that we "re-examine" or "overturn" those provisions is the failure of any of these re-examiners to mention the critical historical importance of the birthright-citizenship provisions of the 14th Amendment to African American citizenship.

They don't care. After all, some of them (no doubt) think they could be killing two birds with one stone.


Rich said...

This is some straight up bool skit. Hispanics aren't purposely having babies to live here. They are doing what any other human does. Celebrating the opportunity or new found freedom that they have come to know. It just so happens that the celebration leads to drinking, which then often leads to sex, which then leads to kids being born.

America ain't all that. They need to get off there high horse.

Ain't nobody feeling this country THAT much. Hell, most of us if we could afford to move and maintain a living while doing it would have long left these lands for stations abroad. I know PLENTY of places that are less racist and more appealing than these United States.

Arlene said...

Yes, if some could turn back the hands of time. Here in PA, an esteemed state senator said that if a SECRET ballot was held, African Americans would be voted back into slavery. No one would want their personal vote known for fear of losing the vote of our community. But in a secret vote their true feelings would be expressed.

Although we hold the "founding fathers" in high regard, we must not forget that many were slaveholders and made their fortunes from free labor. They had to be forced to recognize us as 3/5 of a human being, and we were working for them, making them rich. How much less value must each person standing in line for that $2.75/hour job with no health insurance to pick peaches have now?

Arlene said...

Keith, I'm visiting this subject again because I heard a rant last night by a Texas congressman about what he calls "terror" babies. This guy stood on the floor of Congress to tell tall tales about Middle-Eastern women coming to the US in the last days of their pregnancies to give birth. Thus having children with American citizenship. These babies would then be taken back to the mother's country, trained to be terrorist, then sent back to the US to "destroy us." What malarky!!


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