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The great 'anchor baby' debate
Leading Republicans say the 14th Amendment's guarantee of citizenship shouldn't apply to kids of illegal immigrants. Political posturing, or common sense?
 
A baby born to immigrant parents from Guatemala.
A baby born to immigrant parents from Guatemala.
Getty

Republicans have staked out a new battleground in the fight against illegal immigration. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), among other leading party figures, are arguing that it's time to repeal the portion of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution that is widely interpreted as a guarantee of citizenship to anyone born in the U.S. The goal? To discourage aliens from sneaking into the country to have so-called anchor babies — new-born citizens giving their illegal parents a toehold in the U.S. Is it time to do away with "birthright citizenship"? (Watch Jon Kyl argue in favor of the repeal)

This is political posturing, and it marks a new low for the right: Birthright citizenship has been "the law of the land for the last 142 years, written into constitutional stone," for crying out loud, says Steve Benen in Washington Monthly. This isn't the first time conservatives have tried to win votes by attacking immigrants in a time of "economic anxiety," but it takes their demagoguery to a disgusting new level. Fortunately, they don't have the votes to repeal much of anything at this point.
"McConnell calls for 14th Amendment hearing"

There's nothing radical about restoring the 14th Amendment's intent: If you actually listen to what the Republican politicians are saying, says Daniel Foster at the National Review, you'll realize they're not talking about doing anything outrageous. If the GOP bashers would calm down, they might recognize "there is a credible argument" that those words were never intended to grant citizenship to "individuals who are here illegally," and a simple new law could clear things up.
"HuffPo: Republicans to repeal 14th Amendment, peace at Appomattox"

Leave the kids out of it: Even a partial repeal of the 14th Amendment would be "a costly, pointless national embarrassment," say the editors of the Keene, NH, Sentinel. Birthright citizenship may be abused in "rare cases," but "to the rest of the world it is an expression of American generosity and confidence." So instead of changing the Constitution, why not just attack the real problem — illegal immigration — with better laws, and a concerted effort to actually enforce them.
"The country need not fret over the 14th Amendment"

 

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