August 23, 2015

For anyone who hasn't been following along, Donald Trump and his bloviating over the "illegal immigrants" that are going to overrun the country and destroy America, rape all of the white women and take away all of the jobs from those hard-working "real 'Murkins," ran into a bit of trouble from someone who would normally be his ally on the right this week... Bill O'Reilly.

It seems that Trump's suggestion that we can put an end to birthright citizenship, not by amending the Constitution, but by Congress simply passing legislation to end it instead didn't sit so well with Bill-O, who confronted Trump over the issue earlier this week.

As O'Reilly rightfully noted (and yes, even a stopped clock is right twice a day), you're not going to deport people who are already here and have had legal status since the day they were born and spend the money for all of these cases to run through immigration court, although I would find it particularly humorous if that were to happen to the likes of Marco Rubio, John McCain and Ted Cruz, given the fact that all of them have thought that throwing in with the worst elements in the party who love to fearmonger over "illegal immigration" was a good idea when they thought it was necessary to get elected.

Then of course there's the other side of the spectrum, like wingnut embarrassment from Iowa, Rep. Steve King, who the voters of his state have continued to send back to represent them seven times in a row, I assume because the majority of them are just as big of bigots as King is, who thinks that Trump's bashing of immigrants and calling for an end to birthright citizenship is going to "energize" the party.

King appeared on this Saturday's America's News Headquarters on Fox, and told host Uma Pemmaraju, an Indian-born immigrant herself, that Trump is right, and the Constitution would not need to be amended to end birthright citizenship, and that he hopes Trump's bloviating will lead to the Congress holding more hearings on just that this fall.

PEMMARAJU: As I understand it, you believe that Trump's message on immigration could add momentum to efforts in Congress right now, this fall of course, to tackle the issue of so-called anchor babies and the clause from the 14th Amendment that spells out, in article 1, section 9 that Congress shall have the power to establish a uniform rule of naturalization. Which means there's really no need to amend the 14th Amendment, right?

KING: That's exactly where I am and where I've been for a long time. When I introduced the Birthright Citizenship Act which is HR140, that's based on those principles, we've had testimony before the Judiciary Committee in the United States Congress and the House of Representatives a number of times and I recall some of that testimony was somewhere between 340 thousand and 750 thousand babies were born in America to mothers and fathers who are illegally present in the United States, unlawfully present.

And of course that's grown into millions of newly admitted citizens, who are today, they're sending out the invitations to their family tree, and bringing them into America on the family-reunification plan. It's a foolish immigration policy.

PEMMARAJU: You know, the 14th Amendment, a lot of folks don't realize was originally designed to focus on the ancestors of slaves and over the years it's morphed into the belief that anyone born here in the U.S., legal or illegal is automatically a U.S. citizen. Legal scholars have been at odds over this for years. The phrase that says all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are American citizens.

KING: I want to make the point, and I hope Bill O'Reilly hears this as well, there are no redundant clauses in the United States Constitution and that clause, “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof” was a carefully thought out, carefully crafted and drafted phrase of much debated back in that era of 1867 and '68 to ensure that the babies born to diplomats or their staff or their families would not be automatically citizens of the United States.

The people that say that the Constitution has to be amended in order to end birthright citizenship are invariably the people that think birthright citizenship is a good idea, and those who think it's a good idea generally are the beneficiaries of it, whether it would happen to be the cheap labor beneficiaries, or whether they're political beneficiaries, generally Democrats at least two to one to Republicans.

I'm surprised that King let the cat out of the bag, which is that one of the reasons they pretend to care about this issue at all is the fact that it might cost them elections and we wind up with more Democratic voters in the United States.

It's the Republicans that want the cheap labor by keeping those workers with no legal status and a right to try to earn a living wage, instead of working in the shadows as slave labor.

The only reason the likes of King care about this issue at all is to fearmonger, demonize, and keep working people who should be on the same side of an issue fighting amongst themselves.

As Brian Beutler discussed at the New Republic, Trump's rhetoric might be humorous if it weren't so dangerous: The GOP's Crazy Birthright Citizenship Debate Could Have Real Consequences:

Republicans are racing to catch up with Trump, creating a fresh consensus among the party's presidential candidates that birthright citizenship is bad, and a presumption among most critics and reporters that these candidates believe the Constitution is flawed, and should perhaps be changed.

Neither of these presumptions necessarily describes anti-birthright candidates. Many Republican presidential hopefuls share the belief that giving the children of immigrants citizenship automatically is bad. In less abstract terms, they’re affirming an unfounded nativist anxiety that birthright citizenship creates an incentive for child-bearing immigrants to stream across the border and secure all the benefits of citizenship, including welfare, for their offspring—what conservatives derisively refer to as “anchor babies." But they disagree among themselves over how to address the problem. And because the point of contention is so politically toxic—a dramatic shift to the right relative to the also-toxic Republican primary consensus in 2012—the candidates have little interest in explaining their personal theories of how the imaginary "anchor baby" crisis should be resolved.

All of the possibilities are equally crazy.

Under the status quo, the children of undocumented immigrants are conferred citizenship by the Fourteenth Amendment. If you believe this is bad, and that we should be willing to tolerate a permanent, minority underclass of stateless noncitizens, you can address it in three ways: by changing the Constitution, by stepping up enforcement so dramatically so that all unauthorized immigrants are expelled before they give birth, or by getting courts to reinterpret the Constitution as it is currently written.

In general, the Republicans who want to change the subject from birthright citizenship to literally anything else pay lip service to the issue. But they insist, for better or worse, that citizenship is a constitutional right of the children of immigrants, and that the Constitution is not going to change. Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush are in this category. Both intimate that they oppose automatic citizenship for the children of people without any documentation who are trying to game the Fourteenth Amendment, but argue that the right is enshrined, and it isn’t going away. [...]

These views are so extreme that they're often dismissed as harmless campaign trail pandering. Since the Constitution isn’t going to be amended anytime soon, at least not for this purpose, most reporters don't take the anti-birthright frenzy as much more than a garden variety Republican primary spectacle. That’s a big error. GOP candidates are telling us how they would use levers at their disposal to antagonize immigrants, and we should be listening.

We're going to find out this fall just how dangerous that rhetoric has become.

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