Rand Paul's 'cafeteria constitutionalism': He advocates denial of birthright citizenship to immigrant children
Well, we already knew that Rand Paul's brand of "libertarian conservatism" was actually a front for the far-right beliefs he gets from his father -- even though he's done his best to scurry away from the consequences of having revealed that extremism inadvertently when Rachel Maddow put it in a context that mattered -- in this case, the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960s.
But you know it's going to keep bubbling up, nearly every time he opens his mouth. For instance, in a recent interview with an English-language Russian news station recently, Paul held forth on immigration [via Ian Millhiser at ThinkProgress]:
Paul: I recently have been talking more about satellite observation. They say you can sit in front of the store here and a satellite can read the headline on your newspaper. So I think you could also monitor your border with satellites, and then you just have to have some means of intercepting people who come in illegally. You could have helicopters stations positioned every couple of hundred miles.
I think you just have to have some means of intercepting people who come here illegally. You could have helicopter stations positioned every couple of hundred miles. And I think you could control your borders and control your borders within months if you had the willpower to do it. And I think neither party in our country has had the willpower to control our borders.
Q: Why not?
Paul: I don't know. Some of it may be labor force, things like that. But I'm not opposed to letting people come in and work and labor in our country, but what I think we should do is, we shouldn't provide an easy route to citizenship.
A lot of this is about demographics. If you look at new immigrants from Mexico, they register 3-to-1 Democrat. So the Democrat Party's for easy citizenship and for allowing them to vote. I think we need to readdress that.
We’re the only country I know of that allows people to come in illegally, have a baby, and then that baby becomes a citizen. And I think that should stop also.
It's worth noting that Paul is not only opposed to providing a path to citizenship for the undocumented immigrants already here, but he is apparently also opposed to the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. You know, the one that reads:
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.
This is a bit odd, don't you think, for someone who not only constantly cites the Constitution and calls himself a "constitutionalist," but also accuses his opponents of "violating the Constitution" at every turn? Indeed, only earlier in the segment he declared that President Obama's health-care reforms were "unconstitutional."
Note the words that people like Rand Paul never want to use when they talk about this, but which are what we're talking about here -- namely, birthright citizenship.
And contrary to Paul's assertion, there is a long list of nations [predominantly in the Americas] that practice jus soli. Moreover, it's not, as the Wikipedia entry explains, a particular innovation of American law, having its origins in British common law:
Birthright citizenship, as with much United States law, has its roots in English common law. Calvin’s Case, 77 Eng. Rep. 377 (1608), was particularly important as it established that under English common law “a person's status was vested at birth, and based upon place of birth--a person born within the king's dominion owed allegiance to the sovereign, and in turn, was entitled to the king's protection." This same principle was adopted by the newly formed United States, as stated by Supreme Court Justice Noah Haynes Swayne: "All persons born in the allegiance of the king are natural- born subjects, and all persons born in the allegiance of the United States are natural-born citizens. Birth and allegiance go together. Such is the rule of the common law, and it is the common law of this country…since as before the Revolution."
That, of course, hasn't stopped the Nativists who want to either overturn or ignore the Constitution. Indeed, Paul is just echoing the latest efforts of Arizona's immigrant-bashing nativists. And as we noted then:
[T]his is a sick joke. Surveys of undocumented workers have made indelibly clear that they don't come here to have "anchor babies," or to get our free health care, or any of the other fantasies harbored by nativists: they come here for jobs.
Moreover, there's no serious benefit to be had from having your child be born a citizen -- because under American law, you can be deported anyway, and in fact thousands of parents of American birthright-citizen children are deported every year: 100,000 of them over 10 years, to be precise.
There is an exemption available: After the immigrant parent has been present for no less than ten years, he or she may apply for Cancellation of Removal if he/she can prove ten years of good moral character and establish that deportation would create an exceptional hardship to her citizen child. There is an annual cap of 4,000 on the number of illegal immigrants who can be granted such relief, and for the past several years the government has not even reached that cap.
Of course, facts never have been much of an impediment to people like Rand Paul. Except when they make the tactical mistake of appearing on the Rachel Maddow Show.