Wednesday, October 31, 2018

What’s going on with the 14th Amendment?

Yesterday I read an article on the birthright 14th amendment (which I truly believe Trump is using to get his base in high gear for the election and to keep the CNN opinion/new readers and watchers riled up and jumping off a cliff) which gave some fascinating background. I think it was from 2010—or at least a number of years ago since this pops up from time to time. It was by Ann Coulter, someone I rarely read since she also likes to get people riled up (during the 2016 campaign I think she supported Trump, but then turned against him; don’t recall the details). Anyway it provided historical background that was fascinating. I didn’t know any of it. In 2015 she did a scathing piece on the stupidity of Fox News on the topic of the 14th amendment, but in 2010, her piece was much more reasoned (if she can be called that) and detailed on anchor babies and it involved a footnote.
“The 14th Amendment was added after the Civil War in order to delegitimize the Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision, which held that black slaves were not citizens of the United States. The precise purpose of the amendment was to stop sleazy Southern states [i.e. the Democrat party] from denying citizenship rights to newly freed slaves -- many of whom had roots in this country longer than a lot of white people.
The amendment guaranteed that freed slaves would have all the privileges of citizenship by providing: "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."
The drafters of the 14th amendment had no intention of conferring citizenship on the children of aliens who happened to be born in the U.S. (For my younger readers, back in those days, people cleaned their own houses and raised their own kids.)
Inasmuch as America was not yet a massive welfare state, attracting malingerers, frauds and cheats, it would be amazing if the drafters even considered the amendment's effect on the children of aliens.
But they did.
The very author of the citizenship clause, Sen. Jacob Howard of Michigan, expressly said: "This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers."
Coulter continues in the 2010 article:
“And then, out of the blue in 1982, Justice Brennan slipped a footnote into his 5-4 opinion in Plyler v. Doe, asserting that "no plausible distinction with respect to Fourteenth Amendment 'jurisdiction' can be drawn between resident aliens whose entry into the United States was lawful, and resident aliens whose entry was unlawful." (Other than the part about one being lawful and the other not.)
Brennan's authority for this lunatic statement was that it appeared in a 1912 book written by Clement L. Bouve. (Yes, the Clement L. Bouve.) Bouve was not a senator, not an elected official, certainly not a judge -- just some guy who wrote a book.

So on one hand we have the history, the objective, the author's intent and 100 years of history of the 14th Amendment, which says that the 14th Amendment does not confer citizenship on children of illegal immigrants.  
On the other hand, we have a random outburst by some guy named Clement -- who, I'm guessing, was too cheap to hire an American housekeeper. Any half-wit, including Clement L. Bouve, could conjure up a raft of such "plausible distinction(s)" before breakfast. Among them: Legal immigrants have been checked for subversive ties, contagious diseases, and have some qualification to be here other than "lives within walking distance."

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