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GOP Playing with Dynamite on ‘Anchor Baby’ Issue

There was a time when Republicans knew better than to handle radioactive material.

by
Ruben Navarrette Jr.

Bio

July 23, 2010 - 12:00 am
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The idea of denying citizenship to the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants remains popular with right-wing voters, and so there will always be some conservative Republican willing to use it a chew toy for the sake of a few votes. They even go so far as trying to construct elaborate arguments to get around the obvious unconstitutionality of such a change.

It helps if you were sleeping in high school civics when the teacher covered the 14th Amendment:

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.

That wording is pretty cut and dried. Opponents of birthright citizenship sometimes argue that illegal immigrants aren’t “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States. But their U.S.-born children are, and that’s what the amendment refers to.

It’s also the law of the land, which makes it all the more curious that a crowd that claims to cherish the concept of law and order would be, when it suits their purposes, so quick to ignore it.

The truth is, there are no anchor babies. The real anchor is a job, the kind gladly provided by U.S. employers who thumb their noses at federal law prohibiting the hiring of illegal immigrants.

Arizona lawmakers could go after that group, and it might actually make a dent in the illegal immigration problem. But what fun would that be? Employers have the resources and voting privileges to fight back. Tangling with them comes at a price.

By comparison, the target they have in mind now is child’s play.

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Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a member of the editorial board of the San Diego Union Tribune, a nationally syndicated columnist, a frequent lecturer, and a regular contributor to CNN.com.
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