Friday, July 21, 2006

Change the 14th amendment?

Listening to Dan Sytman on KTTH this AM on the drive into work and he was talking about the 14th amendment, specifically if we should consider changing the constitution so that you are not automatically a citizen if born in the United States. Now the 14th amendment reads as follows:
Section 1. 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.

Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the executive and judicial officers of a state, or the members of the legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such state, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such state.

Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any state shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

First off, I would be in favor of a change that states "All persons born to citizens or those who are legally in the country or naturalized..."

He did not feel this is something the Republicans should pursue, specifically because it would hurt them in the polls with the Hispanic community. Now I can understand that point of view but hearing it did make me cringe somewhat for a couple of reasons. First, I would prefer that politicians did what was right and not what is going to help them most at the polls. FYI... I would also like to play golf for free anywhere and anytime. Second, I am not so sure it would hurt all that much with the Hispanic community and any negative impact would be offset by gains in the overwhelming percentage of citizens that are fed up with illegal immigration.

Let me expand on the second point. First lets assume that only citizens are voting and I realize that is a huge assumption from someone who lives in King County. Now the people that are not going to like this change are primarily illegals and the fringe activists that think this is stolen land whose vote I am not sure I would want anyway. I firmly believe the average Hispanic citizen who went through the citizenship process or are 2nd generation or later resent much of what the illegals and activists do. I also believe that outside the Hispanic community, the change I would propose would be wildly popular because it just seems fair. If you want Jr. to be a citizen, then the parents must be citizens themselves or at least legally in the country. I am not sure how anyone could disagree with that.


Dan Sytman said...

I love this blog. I share your appreciation of Led Zeppelin and your disdain for Jim McDermott. I know we agree on lots of other issues, too.

I don't think any of us should set aside the political implications of public policy. If the issue of illegal immigration is not addressed with caution it could result in the GOP becoming a permanent minority. That's a pretty serious consequence that impacts our wallets, pro-life issues, the war on terror and beyond.

In my lifetime Hispanics will represent 1 in 5 voters. Most of these voters live conservative lives -- large families, traditional values and a strong work ethic. They should be voting GOP and in increasing numbers, they are. We shouldn't screw that up.

By taking on birthright citizenship now--instead of less controversial issues like guest workers and earned citizenship--we would be taking on a wildly controversial matter that would be tied up in the courts for years. All that time, Democrats would be screaming about the racism of the GOP. In the end, we could very well lose. It probably wouldn't get the level of political support to prevail--nor should it. Only in the last few years has birthright citizenship has been a problem. It's more because of problems with our immigration laws and not a flaw in the U.S. Constitution.

So what's the point? In politics, you want to take on winning issues rather than going down in a blaze of righteous glory. Birthright citizenship is a losing issue. That's why we should focus our efforts elsewhere. Remember that in any battle, the point is to win. Politics is war. You don't win a war by losing.

Pedicularis said...

I have given up on politicians doing the right thing. Our government is structured to take advantage of the natural inclination of the elected officials to do what is necessary to try to get re-elected. Compared to kingdoms and tyrannies, this is a good thing. They have to listen to the voting public. Our voices are heard. But they will do the right thing only if the voting public stands behind doing the right thing.