I'm just back from my annual week of leading teenagers in building homes for poor Americans. And I find that my former profession of journalism has gone a little wacky while I was gone, concerning birthright citizenship.
Most U.S. journalism is significantly unprofessional in covering immigration most of the time, but this last week has been among the worst I've seen.
Although I stayed in touch with my staff throughout this past week while I was working with three dozen teens in Appalachia, I am just now reading through the news clips and internet reports from the week.
How many times did reporters, editorial writers, columnists and anchors use phrases like "repealing the 14th amendment?"
Good grief! No opponent of birthright citizenship has talked about REPEALING the 14th amendment with all of its post-Civil War guarantees of civil rights.
But, of course, the open-borders biases of most journalists are pretty clear when they falsely seek to frame this issue as threatening the most important basis of civil rights for freed slaves and their descendants. But we have come to expect that the reaction to every sober immigration-reduction proposal will be incendiary playing of the race card and shouting about "xenophobia."
And how many of the news reports have stated that ending birthright citizenship would be a radical move that would make the U.S. something of a human rights outlaw?
The journalists seem to have no concept that most modern nations have gotten rid of birthright citizenship. It is the U.S. that is backwards in its retention of a concept that was developed during the middle ages for circumstances that no longer exist.
Hardly any journalists have let their readers or listeners know that many constitutional scholars believe the 14th amendment doesn't have to be touched at all to end birthright citizenship.
Even the journalists who don't demogogue the issue by talking about REPEAL of the 14th amendment still frame the issue as being entirely about amending that amendment.
But most of us opponents of birthright citizenship do not believe the 14th amendment even needs to be clarified. We believe Congress could pass a law requiring a baby to have at least one parent who is a citizen or legal immigrant before being given U.S. citizenship. We also believe it would be taken to court and the Supreme Court would ultimately decide.
Many journalists also claim that Supreme Court decisions in the past have affirmed that the 14th Amendment requires citizenship for babies of illegal aliens.
But any past decision has been about babies of LEGAL immigrants.
BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP A MAJOR CAUSE OF U.S. POPULATION EXPLOSION
There are those who claim that the reward of U.S. citizenship to babies born to illegal aliens is not a big enough problem to worry about.
But about one-sixth of U.S. population growth each year is caused by this federal policy of bestowing the full rights of citizenship on these approximately half-million babies each year.
We now have millions of these "birthright citizens," many of whom are now having children of their own. Population effect multiplies.
To the extent that the biggest population explosion in U.S. history (underway today) is driving the destruction of approximately 1 million acres of natural habitat, farmland and open space each year, birthright citizenship has giant long-term consequences.
The consequences are even sooner for taxpayers who must subsidize most of the educational and medical costs of these children of mostly-poor illegal aliens.
'ANCHOR BABIES' A MAJOR FACTOR IN PUSH FOR AMNESTY
The children born in the United States to illegal alien mothers are often referred to as "anchor babies."
They are called anchor babies because, as U.S. citizens, they become eligible to sponsor for legal immigration most of their relatives, including their illegal alien mothers, when they turn 21 years of age, thus becoming the U.S. "anchor" for an extended immigrant family.
They act as an anchor for their illegal-alien parents, though, almost as soon as they are born.
Notice how often in debating the reasons why amnesty is necessary that the proponents say it would be immoral to deport illegal alien adults because they have children who are U.S. citizens because they were born in the U.S.?
While there is no formal policy that forbids DHS from deporting the illegal alien parents of children born in the U.S., they rarely are actually deported. In some cases, immigration judges make exceptions for the parents on the basis of their U.S.-born children and grant the parents legal status. In many cases, though, immigration officials choose not to initiate removal proceedings against illegal aliens with U.S.-born children, so they simply remain here illegally.
Thus, the U.S.-born children of illegal aliens not only represent additional U.S. population growth, but act as 'anchors' to eventually pull a large number of extended family members into the country legally. In fact, an entire industry has built up around the U.S. system of birthright citizenship. Thousands of pregnant women who are about to deliver come to the United States each year from countries as far away as South Korea and as near as Mexico so that they can give birth on U.S. soil. Some come legally as temporary visitors; others enter illegally. Once the child is born, they get a U.S. birth certificate and passport for the child, and their future link to this country is established and irreversible.
BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP AN ENEMY OF UNEMPLOYED AMERICANS
Because this federal practice of birthright citizenship protects millions of illegal foreign workers from facing the prospect of deportation, millions of lower-skilled unemployed Americans find it much more difficult to obtain a job.
I wish more Members of Congress would spend time with the kind of poor Americans I have encountered every summer since I started these work weeks 21 years ago.
Millions of Americans live in deplorable housing conditions primarily because they don't have jobs, or because the ones they have pay too little.
These are the Americans who compete in the service, transportation, construction and manufacturing industries with illegal foreign workers. And while there aren't many foreign workers in Appalachia, there are in the neighboring regions where Appalachian residents have long commuted for their cash.
NumbersUSA grades the actions of each Member of Congress when it comes to birthright citizenship. And our candidate surveys include a question about this federal policy.
Birthright citizenship is an important issue upon which to nail down a response from candidates for Congress this year, although there is no way that the leaders of Congress would allow any movement on a bill to repeal birthright citizenship.
ROY BECK is Founder & CEO of NumbersUSA
Updated: Mon, Aug 9th 2010 @ 10:54pm EDT