Regarding Birthright Citizenship, What Is It About the U.S. Constitution That Nativists Don't Understand?


Of all the un-American schemes to pop from the cranium of neo-Nazi-hugging state Senator Russell Pearce, his plot to deprive American-born children of birthright citizenship, as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, is clearly the most despicable.

Pearce has been pushing to subvert the citizenship clause of the Constitution's 14th Amendment for years now. In 2008, long before he made international headlines by bullying Senate Bill 1070 through the Arizona Legislature, he proposed the nefarious idea along with a number of other Nuremberg-type laws.

One such proposal would have denied marriage certificates to couples unable to prove their American citizenship. In Russell Pearce's vision of an apartheid America, only American citizens would be able to marry American citizens.

Maybe that'll be next on the agenda, after Pearce, riding his plan to deny birth certificates to American-citizen children unless at least one parent is a citizen, wins a seat in the next session of the Legislature.

With Arizona's body politic so riddled with hatred and intolerance, such a bill probably will end up on Governor Jan Brewer's desk, and as she's drunk so deeply of Pearce's poisoned home brew, she's certain to sign it. (Sorry, Democrats, I'm not delusional enough to think that gubernatorial candidate and current Attorney General Terry Goddard will pull out a win against Brewer in November.)

Never mind that in signing such a bill, Brewer would once more plunge the state into a torrent of vilification and outrage that would make the boycotts and protests surrounding SB 1070 seem like a birdbath by comparison.

The law would be as unconstitutional as a Communist dictatorship, would be doomed in the courts, and would involve a costly and protracted legal battle.

But Brewer — whose highest educational accomplishment is a certification in radiology — is just dumb enough to let her pandering to the nativists overrule any flicker of common sense she might possess.

Unfortunately, things have gotten far worse than just this sad Sand Land state of affairs.

The Grand Old Party, the party of President Abraham Lincoln, the very party that conceived the 14th Amendment in the aftermath of the Civil War as part of the foundation of a new America, has imbibed Pearce's nativist hooch.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wants hearings on the 14th Amendment, and GOP Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina would like to propose a constitutional amendment to prevent illegal immigrants from crossing the border to "drop a child." You know, like a dog, or Graham's mom.

Our own Senator John McCain stared into this abyss, suggesting that he might go for 14th Amendment hearings, too. Then, he stepped back. He now says he wants to stay focused on "securing the border."

The real local traitor to the Constitution is Jon Kyl, our pseudo-intellectual junior senator. He jumped aboard the doomed skiff to oblivion on national TV, telling CBS' Face the Nation that he first suggested the idea of 14th Amendment hearings.

"The question is, if both parents are here illegally, should there be a reward for their illegal behavior?" he wondered on the show.

This, from a guy who once worked across the aisle in the Senate on "comprehensive immigration reform," a phrase now more reviled in Republican circles than "child molestation."

If Kyl were up for re-election, you could argue that he's taken up Mexican-bashing for political gain. But Kyl doesn't have to worry about that 'til 2012, when — who knows? — he may be pimping himself as a moderate again on immigration.

For now, however, he is slime personified. There's no idiot politician I'd like to smack upside the skull more. More even than Russell Pearce. And that tells you something.


Fortunately for some Republicans, Pearce's loathsome notion of restricting citizenship to those born to at least one American parent is not being proposed retroactively.

That, by the way, would be unconstitutional, too — but never let the U.S. Constitution get in the way of a racist concept, right?

Among those who would be affected if this war on immigrant children were applied retroactively, would be a rising Republican star, Louisiana Governor Piyush "Bobby" Jindal, whose parents came to this country from India on student visas, according to the New York Times.

Since being outed as an "anchor baby" in an opinion piece published on the Web site of the Service Employees International Union, Jindal's flacks have countered that Jindal's mom was actually a permanent resident. But that wouldn't cut it in Pearce's bizarro world.

Recently, the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center reported "4 million U.S.-born children of unauthorized immigrant parents resided in this country in 2009."

Based on U.S Census Bureau stats, the center found that 340,000 of the 4.3 million babies delivered in the United States in 2008 alone were what nativists objectify as "anchor babies."

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons