Idiotic political posturing over babies

As the debate over this whole “birthright citizenship” or “anchor baby” nonsense ramps up — notice how carefully crafted buzzwords try to set the agenda? It’s the difference between “inheritance tax” and “death tax” — I was interested to see Michael Gerson write a column I actually agreed with.

Gerson is one of those hard-right guys, formerly worked for one of the Bushes, and I agree with him about as often as I agree with George Will. His column in the wapost (here) makes some pretty basic constitutional arguments against the whole business of saying we need to change this idea that anyone born in the US is a citizen.

The idea is driven by racism, of course, and there’s a bit of political expediency around it. When the hispanics sneaking across our borders were people we wanted to sneak across, we were happy to have their children be citizens. Those children became poster children for America being better than “them.”

When was this?

Perhaps you remember an island called Cuba. Back in the 60s and 70s Cuba was the huge devil country and the people fleeing it in boats were freedom seekers who we welcomed with open arms and wallets.

I distinctly remember one of those touchy-feely stories from then involving a Coast Guard boat that picked up some Cuban refugees in a boat, one of whom was in the process of having a baby. The mother told the guardsmen that she really hoped she was within the 3-mile limit because then her child would be a US Citizen and have a bright future, and the tone of the article, matching the tone of the nation at the time, was that having that child born in America would be a good and wonderful thing, proof that we were a welcoming and free nation where anyone could find opportunity, a gift of freedom and opportunity, a future of happiness and all that crap.

This was the attitude because we wanted to stick it to Fidel Castro. Nobody in this country really gave a rat’s patoot for that kid, it was all about symbols. We were fighting the Cold War, the kid was proof we were winning.

Now, of course, that kid would be an anchor baby, a brat here to suck off the teat of American kindness and bleed us dry. Yeah I know, the Mexicans aren’t fleeing Cuba — but they are fleeing lives of poverty and suffering that are actually worse than the ones the Cubans were fleeing. Even then, people fleeing Haiti to come to America were fleeing for precisely the same reasons people would flee Cuba — still do, for all I know — and the Cubans would be welcomed while the Haitians would be shown the door.

That’s politics.

The current birthright/anchor debate is all posturing, by the way — all this sturm and drang — nobody is going to be amending or vetoing the 14th Amendment any time soon. It sets a hell of a precedent — if a majority can change the 14th, why not the 2nd?

So all the yelling about it now is to manipulate the masses for political gain. They needed a boogy man, Hispanic babies are it.

By the way — the Coast Guard hit the gas and made sure that baby was born within the 3-mile limit. Now, I presume, those sailors would be called traitors to America who probably should have thrown mother and baby into the sea. Back then, they were American heroes spreading the dream.

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26 Responses to Idiotic political posturing over babies

  1. Bob Becker says:

    And of course recall the huge storm of protest on the right about Elian Gonzalez being returned to his father in Cuba after his mother drowned attempting to reach the US.. Elian Gonzalez was, of course, an illegal immigrant. But that didn’t seem to matter when there were political points to be made by insisting that he be granted…. well, amnesty I guess…. did it.

  2. wreddyornot says:

    I enjoyed reading this posting and loved the personalized article by Tina Dupuy in today’s paper. I think many citizens are looking for any scapegoat they can find to deal with their subconscious guilt for not long ago holding elected Federal representatives responsible for comprehensive immigration reform with some basic humanity in it. Odd that such purveyors don’t seem to recognize the admonition of an ultimate scapegoat many of them believe in who said to love one another, including your enemies.

  3. Caril Jennings says:

    Matthew 25:40 . . . When you did it to one of the least of these . . . You were doing it to me

  4. Neal Cassidy says:

    The way the people in support on repealing the 14th amendent word their proposal is interersting.. They want the right to revoke citizenship to people “born or naturelized(sic) in the United States. This could apply to anyone born here not just hispanic anchor babies. If right wingers wanted to rename french fries as freedom fries they could easily attempt to revoke citizenship to anyone or group they attemot to demonize. German Americans during World War 1 or Japanese Americans during World War 2. When did the Godly inspired Constitution cease to be inspired? What amendements are next to be repealed? How far back will they go to deny citizenship? My grandmother from Denmark illegaly entered this country. Did this make my father and his siblings anchor babies? Should he have been deported. Should I or my siblings fear deeportation?

  5. Dovie says:

    I have to disagree. Given a straight up or down vote on this one issue, I would say that the children of illegals are illegals. This seems fair to me.

    Trying to take away citizenship in hindsight is stupid, of course, for obvious reasons. I also don’t think it requires a repeal of the entire 14th amendment. Interpretations can change.

    I understand that birthright citizenship is unequivocally Constitutional. I understand this is something unique about the US. I could work with it, if I was designing immigration reform. If it ain’t changing, there is no point writing unconstitutional laws to punish legal citizens. It’s going nowhere and stopping any kind of reform effort.

    But I still think it’s bad to make having a child easier than filing for citizenship.

  6. Neal Cassidy says:

    Dovie, if my grandmother was illegal and you say that the children of illegals are illegal does that mean that I should expect to be deported? To Denmark a country I have no known relatives or current connection with? It has been pointed out that the grandfather and father of Mitt Romney were born in Mexico. What of the mormons who fled to Mexico to avoid arrest and prosecution for polygamy? What of the children of mormons sent to Mexico to establish colonies as directed by their church? How many generations will children of illegals, including my father and his siblings and all of that generations children will still be considered illegal? When will I finally be legal?

  7. ctrentelman says:

    Dovie — gotta ask, do you really think it is easier to have a child than file for citizenship?

    Not from what I’ve heard. I didn’t personally carry either kid, but I seem to recall about 18 to 20 years of pretty hard work for each one.

  8. laytonian says:

    Dovie, what do you mean by “bad to make having a child easier than filing for citizenship”?

    That’s the MYTH of the “anchor babies” argument: that having a child in the US means you are on the road to legalization. .

    In fact, a US citizen child cannot file for a US visa for its parents until the child is 21 years of age, and upon reaching that age the child must also be earning at least 125% of the US poverty threshold to be able to apply.

    No one gets closer in the line towards citizenship, because their child is a citizen.

    You know the last time this came up? When the Vietnamese came in the 1960s/1970s, and people complained about THEIR “anchor babies”.

    Just ONCE, I’d like for some white illegals to be accused of having anchor babies. But we know that’ll never happen. Right, Dovie?

  9. Mark Saal says:

    Yay! Card games! Deal me in! Laytonian, of course, already has the upper hand, for cleverly playing the race card in the discussion. (At the risk of being accused of agreeing with Dovie — which I don’t, by the way — it is unfortunate that when someone happens to disagree with your opinion you immediately accuse them of racism. Verrrry classy.) So anywho, it’s my turn, and I play …. the NAZI card! That’s right, Laytonian, I say you’re nothing more than just a little Hitler. There. So, whose turn now?

  10. Al says:

    The hell are you talking about, Mark?

  11. ctrentelman says:

    al — he is referring to the fact that this anchor baby debate only seems to come up with the babies in question are not born to white folk, but instead are born to people with skins of darker hues — the famous race card. Until the last 20 years or so, the majority of illegal immigrants in this country who came and had “anchor” babies were European, which means white, which means nobody gave a crap.

    In the pack of cards, Saal is the joker, although in this case I agree with him. There is a LOT of racism in the current immigration debate, although skin color isn’t always the determining factor. The Irish race, for example, was once the object of similar attitudes.

  12. Al says:

    Charles — I guess I read Mark’s comment differently than you. I read it as accusing laytonian of playing the race card, which is of course the bog-standard method of _denying_ the salience of race by accusing others of inappropriately wielding race in an argument. (Hence the non-sequitor \little Hitler\ ending.)

    I quite agree that race — indeed, racism — is a core factor in the current immigration debate. This seems blindingly obvious, so Mark’s deflection of that strikes me as rather odd. But Mark, if I mis-read your comment, I apologize.

  13. Mark Saal says:

    Hi Al — Sorry for the tardiness in my reply; busy day at work. And no apology necessary, you did not misread my comment. (Charlie, on the other hand, has to stay after school.) So, at the risk of being forever labeled a racist, here goes …
    Yes, I believe Laytonian played the race card in this instance. See, I agreed with everything he or she said right up to that final sentence. It was a very persuasive argument for why these “anchor baby” fears are unfounded. But then, Laytonian had to throw in the racism charge, and that’s where it lost me.
    Look, I’m not naive enough to believe that racism doesn’t play a part in the current debate, but I refuse to believe that the vast majority of the people involved on the other side of this issue (and I do not count myself on their “side” by any means) are motivated by race.
    This is nothing more than the same kind of demonizing that the right has been so good — or bad — at for so many years. And until both sides are willing to try to see the other’s viewpoint and stop reducing it to “You’re wrong because you’re bad” (and let’s face it, you call someone a racist, you’re basically saying they’re a bad person), we’re not going to get anywhere.
    The left accusing the right of racism in this debate is no different, in my mind, than the right accusing the left of being unpatriotic, un-American socialists who want to destroy this great country of ours because they’re not willing to “get tough” on immigration. I refuse to let the right-wingers define the motivations of the left on this issue (I don’t believe Charlie is un-American, for example; something he’s been accused of before), so I darn well better equally be willing to refuse to let the left-wingers tell me why the right is pushing this agenda at this time.
    Don’t get me wrong, there are times when the race card can and should be played. But it’s a very serious charge, and in my humble opinion it had better be a fairly cut and dried situation before you even think about leveling it at someone. (Indeed, I fear that this card is in danger of being overplayed in our society to the point that it’s losing some of its power. And that frightens me.)
    So anyway, I hope that clarified my point for you, and I really hope all this doesn’t make me some sort of a closet racist.
    Man, that would really be a buzz-kill.

  14. Dovie says:

    I certainly did not mean to be flip or sound racist. Usually, I say I think we should all interbreed until we are the same color and can’t argue about it anymore. I also normally argue that Canada, the US, & Mexico should form one big union.

    I would eliminate birthright citizenship as a line item because it does encourage people to have kids for poor reasons. I understand it does not make the parents legal, but it does make them un-deportable.

    Also, people are much more mobile than they used to be. Immigrants in the 1800-1900 planned to make a new home here. The trip was pretty much once in a lifetime. Folks can go around the globe in a day, now.

    For example: North Davis Preparatory Academy has 13 teachers from Spain who come for a year or two on an exchange program. If someone has a baby while they are here, I don’t think it is logical for that baby to be an American citizen. Nobody even wants or is seeking that.

    I have the inscription from the base of the Statue of Liberty in my poem collection from Jr Hi / High School. But I think the Statue, the poem, and the Constitution assumed that immigrants were coming to stay. That simply isn’t the case anymore. Old Americans are retiring to South America – you don’t have to award citizenship for these kinds of arrangements to work.

    I would support lots of other things. For example, I would be OK with amnesty after people have been here 5 consecutive years. The whole family would be legal then. Having children is neutral to the process, however.

    Why is that racist and cruel? It seems preferable, to me.

    Incidentally, I don’t think “racism” is nearly as accurate as “socioeconomic discrimination”.

  15. Michael Trujillo says:

    Dovie, why do you assume that the immigrant parents of a child born in the U.S. are less “deportable” than other immigrants? The fact is, the U.S. deports very few people in the first place, never mind whether they’ve had a child born here or not. It’s much ado about nothing. No one “needs” to have a baby to make themselves “undeportable”, therefore, I doubt very many people actually have babies here for that purpose. It’s a lot of work to have a child and feed it when you’re working your ass off just to take care of yourself. I’d be more concerned about our homegrown loonies who are having babies, like the Octomom or the homeless woman living under the over pass.

    There are kids with U.S. citizenship living all over the world. It’s the height of American arrogance to think that everyone in the whole world is clamoring to take up residence in the U.S. Furthermore, we’re not unique in the world in regards to passing out citizenships. My daughter has dual citizenship with Finland and she’s never been there. She can’t speak Finnish, and she knows very little about its History. At least the kids of immigrants born in the U.S. grow up learning to speak the predominant (but not only) American language.

    Lastly, to Mark and others of his mind, it’s hard not to believe that the immigration reformists are not motivated by racism. Even in the 1800′s, when the anti-immigrant fervor was aimed at the Irish and Italians and the European Jews, it was based on racism because, in those days, (before 20th century genetics) they believed that these people were a different race. I used to work in a college bar in Berkeley where many illegal Europeans used to hang out. Many of them would come over as Au Pairs or students and just stay when their visas expired. They’d work diffenent jobs under the table. Where was the outrage about these Danes, Belgians, and Brits taking away jobs from hard working Americans? There was none. But see a few brown skinned people standing on a corner looking for work and suddenly we need to erect walls and repeal the 14th amendment and believe the fantasy that someone else would be willing to pick our lettuce.

    Get real. This very much is about race.

  16. Mark Saal says:

    Golly, Michael. Thanks for the shout out to me and others of my mind. I always love being lumped. (I much prefer being among the “ilk,” but I suppose I’ll take “of his mind.”)

    And thank you for the good advice. I will certainly attempt to “get real” in the future, although I must admit that it doesn’t sound like a very nice place.

    Oh, and I will concede that you have succeeded in convincing me of one thing: The immigration debate is very much about race. You and others of your mind* have certainly seen to that.

    Have a real day.

    * … others of your mind — Just in case you’re not sure who I’m lumping you in with, the “others of your mind” I’m referring to are all of the folks on both sides of the issue who continue to prefer demonizing their opponents to actually working together to solve the issue.

  17. Bob Becker says:

    There seems to be an assumption building that if an illegal immigrant to the US has a child born in the US, he or she is not subject to being deported. That is not true. The US deports illegal immigrants with American children all the time. Here’s the lede a NY Times article on the topic, done a couple of years ago with link to follow:

    WASHINGTON — Of nearly 2.2 million immigrants deported in the decade ended 2007, more than 100,000 were the parents of children who, having been born in the United States, were American citizens, according to a report issued Friday by the Department of Homeland Security.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/14/us/14immig.html

    As for how many people we deport annually, the claim was made above that the US deports “very few.” We deport these days about 300K people a year. Folks can decide for themselves if that counts as “very few.” [: (CNSNews.com) – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) deported 298,410 illegal aliens in fiscal 2009."]

  18. laytonian says:

    Wow. Now I’m Little Hitler?
    Wait until my husband gets home. Maybe I’ve now got the gravitas to insist it’s HIS turn to clean out the garage!

    Why CAN’T we mention the obvious, without childish name-calling, without someone who’s never addressed me online before demonizing me as a Nazi?

    The latest source I can find for statistics, is via The Pew Hispanic center (a link provided by Andrew Breitbart in 2006). Maybe someone has more recent data?

    http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8G6U2ko8

    Percent of illegal immigrants by origin:
    22% Latin America/Central America
    56% Mexico
    13% — Asia **
    6% — Europe and Canada **
    —–
    40% +/- overstayed their visas (ie, did NOT run across the border)

    So, if this ISN’T about dark-skinned people, why don’t we control ALL of our borders? Why aren’t we building a wall between the US and Canada? After all, 20% of several million “illegals” is STILL millions of people!

    Frankly, I don’t care about “the issues”. It’s a lot of time and hate spent worrying about “those people”, whether they were the Italians, the Irish, the Jews, the Germans, the Vietnamese, or “the Mexicans” (which most seem to lump together as if there are no other countries south of the border). .

    I don’t CARE if someone wants to come to our country and contribute as a worker, as a taxpayer, a consumer. If we can’t handle immigrants, we shouldn’t allow any. At all.

    All I ask is that they get documented, pay income taxes, stay out of trouble, learn English (as President Obama recently stated), and work towards citizenship.

    I think it’s admirable that a child born in the US, is a citizen.
    It doesn’t mean the parents can’t be deported.
    It doesn’t mean the parents have special “rights”.

    If we change the 14th Amendment, can we make it retroactive?

    The US is being wedge-issued into pieces. I find that sad.

  19. Zack says:

    latonian says:
    Just ONCE, I’d like for some white illegals to be accused of having anchor babies. But we know that’ll never happen. Right, Dovie?

    Well my friend I don’t know of (m)any whites you enter the country illegally. Do you?

  20. Zack says:

    Laytonian: I don’t know of anyone who objects to “legal” immigrants! It is the “illegal” immigrants to which most people object. Of course the “leftist sob sisters” living in their comfortable suburbs don’t have to contend with the riff-raff running around the streets. Now don’t get your knickers in an uproar, I’m not talking about the hard-working law-abiding illegals, many of whom are those that came to this country with the intention of deliberately overstaying their visa. Of course the Dem’s want to give them amnesty. They are potential, close to 95%, voters for the Dem party. Look how they march, agitate, and DEMAND their “rights”. Heck what rights do they have being in the country illegally? They already receive FREE medical care without having insurance, FREE schooling for their offspring, FREE college educations, welfare, food stamps, and sanctuary cities where even the convicted felons are free to commit more crimes. The legal American taxpayer picks up the tab for all this. And please don’t refer to me as a “racist”. My adopted children are Mexican. My grandchildren are Mexican and my two great grandchilden are Mexican. So please don’t lecture me about being prejudiced against “brown skinned” people.
    I do wish to compliment you on your writing skills. It is a pleasure to communicate with someone that knows proper English, grammar and spelling,
    Have a wonderful day and best wishes to your husband and family.

  21. laytonian says:

    My apologies to Dovie, who I have more beliefs in common than not. In fact, the issue of birthright citizenship is, so far, the only issue I’m aware we disagree on.

    Since Charlie’s op-ed piece was based on the Hispanic aspect of the issue, my comment was (bluntly) aimed at that.

    There are only two words I regret typing: “right, Dovie?”

  22. laytonian says:

    Zack, I actually have known “whites” who are here illegally.

    Two female WSC students who came here on visa, and stayed. They were neighbors years ago, and eventually married US citizens.

    I have several issues with the current immigration debate:

    –Hispanics are visible, and people are making judgments. A family I know very well (whose Arizona ancestors were here before statehood) has expressed how they now feel targeted, and have heard comments they’d not even heard while growing up. If it affects them, it will affect your wonderful children and grandchildren.

    –When you label someone “illegal”, you’re labelling them as a criminal. Being an undocumented alien is not a felony. But it does lead to prejudice, which leads to economic problems, and which leads to crime. WHY do we even call them “illegal”? Why do we care?

    –I don’t think we should limit immigration. Let them all in, document them, give them SSNs, collect taxes, and thus give them all the rights AND responsibilities as all residents of the US.

    –But, I also support deportation of non-citizen criminals, and of families who allow their children to enter gangs. No one is above the law.

    –There are many misconceptions. Yes, illegals get emergency medical care, the same as any other UNinsured person. But they do not directly get welfare, and their wages are now counted in the household’s income when determining the family’s eligibility for public services.

    Please show us your source for those FREE college educations, welfare, food stamps and the sanctuary cities where criminals are free to carry out crimes.

    My grandmother came to this country from Germany at age 18, with her younger sister. Everything they owned was in a trunk (which my daughter now has). They showed up at Ellis Island, were tested for TB, and were let in. That’s it.

    Why do we care more now, who comes in? Why so many more rules?

    With our economy in the shape it is, we need more consumers, not fewer.

  23. Zack says:

    Laytonian:
    At least you are able to reply without getting hysterical, although I do disagree with some of your premises. Being here illegaly IS a crime. Therefore an illegal alien is a criminal. Why do you insist on referring to “illegals” as “undocumented”? Would you also refer to drug dealers as “unlicensed pharmacists”? There was a reason the country had immigration quota’s. I won’t bore you with the details as I feel you are already aware of the reasons. If not, you should be. If we opened our borders to everyone who desired to come here we would soon be in a economic struggle that would make today’s recession pale in comparison. The myth that illegal’s only take jobs that American’s won’t take is just that-a myth. Who do you think worked in hotels/motels as maids prior to the influx of people who were willing to work for less wages than were being currently paid. There were many migrant workers in the South and East before illegals moved in and again worked for less money. Swift Meat Packing Co. FIRED all its American workers a few years ago and replaced them all with illegals. So please don’t insult me by telling me how illegals will only take jobs American’s don’t or won’t take. Shoot I’m getting on a soapbox again. Forgive me. As for all the “freebies” I mentioned previously, come to CA and you will see what I referred to. Sanctuary cities: San Francisco, L.A., Oakland, San Diego, N.Y., Tampa, Chicago, Denver, Phila., Atlanta and too many others to enumerate.

  24. Neal Cassidy says:

    Were the mormon pioneers who came to Utah July 24th 1847 illegals? After all it was Mexican territory. Did any of them attempt to become Mexican citizens? Did any of them attempt to learn Spanish, the language of Mexico? Did any of the early pioneers attempt to become members of the native American Indian tribes who occupied the land?

  25. Dovie says:

    Yeah, I have my kids in Spanish immersion school with Spanish teachers and native Spanish speaking children because I’m a racist. Good call.

    You guys are as bad as Doug’s Tea Party friends.

    And I think you are right, laytonian, we pretty much agree on things.

  26. laytonian says:

    Zack asks: “Who do you think worked in hotels/motels as maids prior to the influx of people who were willing to work for less wages than were being currently paid. There were many migrant workers in the South and East before illegals moved in and again worked for less money.”

    Who?

    People like my immigrant grandmother, that’s who. She worked in hotel kitchens and as a parlormaid. AND almost all of her coworkers were other immigrants.

    That’s been how our country’s worked for many years: the immigrants start at the bottom and work their way up.

    It’s not the fault of the illegals that Swift fired everyone; that’s Swift’s fault.

    I find it quite hilarious when people blame the Democrats for the current mess YET it’s the Republican businessmen who are hiring the illegals.

    Why don’t BOTH parties cooperate on a solution?
    Because one party wants the votes, and the other party likes the campaign contributions from the illegal-hiring businessmen.

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